Iraq: May 28, 2003

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Poland announced that a 7,000-strong multinational peacekeeping force under its command will be in place in July. The force will deploy next month and will become fully operational by August. Poland will deploy 2,000 troops and a similar number could be expected from Ukraine, while Bulgaria promised 500 soldiers and the Czechs approved the dispatch of 400 peacekeepers. 

The Americans had been impressed by the 56 GROM commandos serving with coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 300-member GROM (Polish for "Thunder") is a mixture of the Delta Force, SAS, and the Navy SEALs. GROM operators have engaged in numerous operations, including peacekeeping in the Balkans and Haiti. In 1997, they successfully captured Slavko Dokmanovic, aka, "the Butcher of Vukovar" who was held responsible for the murder of 260 Croats. 

The United States then asked Poland to lead the multinational force, whose task would be to patrol a sector of Iraq between Baghdad and the southern city of Basra. NATO, which Poland joined in 1999, approved the deployment on the 21st. The Iraq mission will be a test for the Poles, who have struggled to modernize and restructure along western lines since the collapse of Communism 10 year earlier. - Adam Geibel

The United States has asked fifty nations to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq. Baghdad, home to many of Saddam's most loyal, and best paid, supporters, continues to be unsafe because of all the bad guys with guns. Of the 45,000 American troops in Baghdad, 21,000 have been assigned to police functions.


 

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