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NATO: Integrate Afghan Missions, Speed Trainers to Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

POIANA BRASOV, Romania, Oct. 13, 2004 – Most NATO-member defense ministers assembled here today agreed to examine how to integrate alliance and U.S.- coalition missions in Afghanistan and to send more military trainers to Iraq as quickly as possible.

Near the conclusion of daylong meetings, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters there needs to be "a greater degree of coherence" between the U.S.- and coalition-led Operation Enduring Freedom activities and alliance-managed International Security Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan.

Among the options to be considered for improving operations in Afghanistan, he noted, would be "the possibility of a unified command" under NATO's umbrella.

And, "speed is of the essence," he emphasized, in regard to NATO's decision to send 300 to 500 more instructors to Iraq to provide training to senior Iraqi military leaders. A military academy is to be established near Baghdad for this purpose.

The interim Iraqi government, the secretary-general observed, had asked NATO to expedite the sending of the trainers. There are already 50 or so NATO-sponsored military trainers in Iraq.

"We must have the (additional) trainers on the ground - including the force protection - as soon as possible," he said. These added trainers, he noted, should be deployed to Iraq "this year."

The secretary-general also reported that NATO is also looking to expand alliance-member-manned provincial reconstruction teams into the western part of Afghanistan.

De Hoop Scheffer noted that NATO-member defense ministers would meet again in Nice, France, in February to discuss options of how to integrate security missions in Afghanistan and other alliance issues.

Defense leaders representing NATO's 26 member countries traveled to this Transylvania resort town to attend Oct. 13 and 14 fall informal defense ministerial meetings.

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NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

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