Peacekeeping: April 25, 2005

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There's a worldwide shortage of troops for peacekeeping (stabilization) and peacemaking (fighting the local thugs) missions. Most countries willing to commit reliable troops are already stretched pretty far. As a result, some missions are very understaffed. The UN mission in Ivory Coast is authorized some 17,000 troops, but the present force level is about 6,000 UN personnel and 4,000 French (who are there on their own, not part of the UN force). Most of the European countries traditionally prominent in stabilization missions are hurting. Denmark, for example, already has a relatively large force in Kosovo, helps man four "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" in Afghanistan, and has small contingents in many other operations, including Congo, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Timor, Kashmir, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Croatia, Iraq, and Israel-Palestine, leaving it so short of manpower that it is unable to undertake any additional missions.

There are some new players, but they are small. The Armenian Army presently has a small (150-strong) "battalion" trained and equipped along NATO lines for peacekeeping missions. Over the next few years they plan to expand this to a brigade of 2,500-3,000 troops, in four battalions plus some specialized units, all on NATO organizational lines. This includes a professional, responsible NCO corps. This strongly suggests that the Armenians intend to restructure their entire military establishment along Western lines, abandoning the Russian model that they have been using since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The UN is encouraging this sort of thing among the new NATO countries, and those who want to join NATO. In the end, NATO will see a lot more combat as a peacekeeping force, than as a mutual-defense organization.

 


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