Formerly Unstable Countries Now Exporting Stability to Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Aug. 13, 2003 "The significant event is these countries, dealing so long with instability, are now exporting stability to Iraq," said Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a press conference here Aug. 12.
The chairman was in Nicaragua to thank the government for its help in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Central American nation is sending 115 soldiers as its contribution to stability operations in Iraq. They are part of a Central American unit roughly 1,200 men strong. El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are also contributing troops to the effort.
The soldiers will come under Spanish command and be part of the Polish-led division. They will be based in Najaf. Plans call for them to fly to Spain and then to Kuwait. They are expected to cross the border into Iraq by Sept. 1.
Embassy officials are very pleased with Nicaragua's response. They said the move illustrates the maturation of military-to-military contacts between the United States and these Central American nations.
The Nicaraguans are specialists in demining and will provide medical personnel and a security unit. The unit will be in Iraq for six months and then another Nicaraguan unit will replace it. The United States will pay to airlift the soldiers to Iraq.
Myers met with Gen. Javier Carrion, the commander of the Nicaraguan army, and later had an office call with President Enrique Bolanos and Defense Minister Jose Adnan Pastora.
Myers flew on to El Salvador for meetings and will then journey to the Honduras and the Dominican Republic before heading back to Washington.