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Coalition Partners Increase Support in Iraq

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2004 – Two coalition allies, Singapore and Denmark, have agreed to extend their countries' support for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Japan is expected to follow suit in the weeks ahead. In addition, Denmark voted to increase its troop strength in Afghanistan and to extend their tour by six months.

Singapore sent a Singapore armed forces landing ship tank to the Persian Gulf Nov. 27 to help in Iraq's reconstruction. Danish lawmakers voted Nov. 25 to extend their military mission in Iraq by another six months and to expand their country's presence in Afghanistan. And the Japanese government is about to extend the deployment of Self-Defense Force troops to Iraq for another year, news reports said.

RSS Resolution and its 180-person crew left Singapore Nov. 27 for a three-month deployment in the Persian Gulf. The Singaporean Ministry of Defense Web site said the ship will help protect waters around oil terminals and provide logistics support for coalition vessels and helicopters. It also will conduct patrols, queries and boarding operations.

Singapore had earlier deployed a landing ship tank, C-130 transport aircraft and KC-135 tanker aircraft to the region to conduct similar missions, the Web site said.

In Denmark, lawmakers passed what the Danish Parliament Web site called "a landslide" vote to extend by six months the tour of duty for their 525 soldiers in Iraq. The tour was initially slated to end in December, but will now run through June.

In a separate vote, the Danish Parliament voted to increase the number of troops serving in Afghanistan to between 110 and 225 and also extend their tour by six months. Officials said the force will include a 40-troop detachment assigned under a German-led provincial reconstruction team.

Denmark has 70 soldiers in Afghanistan, where they are employed in military staff positions and as support personnel at Kabul International Airport, the Web site reported.

Meanwhile, press reports said Japan is about to extend the deployment of its Self-Defense Force troops in Iraq for an additional year. The decision to extend the deployment period beyond Dec. 14 is expected at a Dec. 10 cabinet meeting, reports said.

If the extension is approved, the Japanese ground troops will continue providing humanitarian assistance to local communities in Samawa, Iraq. In addition, Air Self-Defense Force troops will continue to transport supplies for U.S. troops between Kuwait and Iraq.

During a Self-Defense Force exhibition ceremony earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Japan needs to "actively contribute" toward peace and stability in the international community to ensure its own safety and prosperity.

Koizumi said the Japanese Self-Defense Force has received high marks for its activities in Iraq. "We have received high appraisals and words of appreciation for the SDF in Iraq as personnel that put into practice the good intentions of the people of Japan," he said.

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