Italy to send 2,700 troops to support campaign against terrorism : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

WIRE: 11/07/2001 1:25 pm ET

Italy to send 2,700 troops to support campaign against terrorism

The Associated Press

ROME (AP) Italy pledged the deployment of 2,700 troops to the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism Wednesday, joining four other European countries that have committed military forces: Britain, France, Germany, and Spain. Lawmakers in both houses of the Italian parliament put aside their chronic bickering and overwhelmingly approved the troop deployment in a rare show of bipartisanship.

Speaking to lawmakers before the vote, Premier Silvio Berlusconi urged a show of "national unity by all forces inspired by the constitutional ideals of freedom and peace."

Defense Minister Antonio Martino said there were no immediate plans to send ground troops to Afghanistan but that they could be deployed there "in a subsequent phase as part of military escort and humanitarian aid."

Italy's contingent will include naval, air and ground components, Martino said.

The naval component will consist of an aircraft carrier equipped with eight fighter jets, two frigates and a supply vessel that would be deployed in the Persian Gulf. Up to 1,000 ground troops would be deployed later, Martino said.

Germany, which this week pledged up to 3,900 troops, also said it has no immediate plans to send ground troops to Afghanistan or participate in airstrikes.

Only Britain has joined the United States in airstrikes.

Other countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey have contributed or pledged forces, if needed, to the campaign. Japan is drawing up plans that could include warships and personnel, taking advantage of a new law allowing non-combat support for the U.S.-led strikes in Afghanistan.

The United States requested military help as part of the international coalition against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Cabinet approved the country's offer of troops, a bold step for a nation that long avoided foreign military engagements after World War II. Parliament must still back the proposal. A vote is expected as early as next week.

Schroeder announced Tuesday that Germany would offer armored vehicles equipped to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; about 100 special forces; a medical evacuation unit; air transport and naval forces to protect shipping lanes.

France already has contributed about 2,000 military personnel naval, air force and intelligence and is considering a U.S. request for additional military assistance, President Jacques Chirac said Tuesday.

France has intelligence agents operating on the ground in Afghanistan to help define targets, and is conducting intelligence operations by air and sea with a surveillance ship and at least one spy plane. It also has positioned two vessels in the region for logistical support.

Turkey, a NATO member, is the only Muslim country to contribute troops so far. Despite polls showing most Turks opposed, the government announced last week it would send 90 special forces to the effort in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, 111 mostly opposition lawmakers petitioned the Constitutional Court to void parliament's authorization of the deployment.

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

-- Martin Thompson (, November 07, 2001

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