Two Years in Iraq: Coalition Requires Work, Commitment
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, March 23, 2005 Keeping the coalition here strong and working together is a lot like maintaining a marriage, the chief of staff for Multinational Force Iraq told the American Forces Press Service.
"A good marriage isn't easy. You have to work at it every day, and there has to be give and take on both sides," said Marine Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Weber.
"And that is what dealing with the coalition over here is," said Weber. "It's been a selfless give and take on both sides, by all the countries involved."
Working as a coalition introduces challenges to the mission, with coalition members bringing to the table different languages, cultures, skill levels, types of equipment and philosophies about the way they plan and strategize, Weber said. "It makes things very interesting and very challenging," he said.
But despite the challenges, Weber said, Operation Iraqi Freedom is stronger for the many capabilities coalition members contribute.
Regardless of their troop strength in Iraq, Weber said all coalition members are important contributors to the operation. "I don't care if it's a country that has 12 soldiers over here or a country like Korea that has 3,700 soldiers over here. All the coalition partners' contributions over here are significant," he said.
The coalition in Iraq remains strong, Weber said, and most members have committed their forces here through the end of the year. However, he said, that does not mean that they may not phase in their troop reductions before that. "I think the coalition forces are approaching their drawdown exactly the way we probably want them to, and they have been very cooperative in working with us," he said.
Multinational Force Iraq is developing goals and objectives for the end of 2005 and beyond, but Weber said deadlines won't be the driving force in those plans, invoking the words of Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Multinational Force Iraq commander, on the subject of reducing troop strength in Iraq.
"General Casey says we are not going to tie ourselves to any specific timelines or numbers," Weber said. "It is going to be condition-based."