Lesser Known GWoT Allies #1


Romania’s name comes from its historical position as part of the far eastern extent of the Roman empire and it is a traditionally Christian nation. Here is a small map for the curious. Romania recently joined NATO and the EU. Their troops in Iraq (860) and Afghanistan (550) are garnering a little more attention lately, but one still rarely hears of them. On a per capita basis they have a significant commitment. Shamefully for me, it is greater than that of Australia, which has a similar population to Romania.

It seems that the current high level of NATO/US Military friendliness with Romania is likely the result of their co-operation during the Balkans campaigns, fighting which was took place close to their home. Interestingly, some of the Romanian soldiers are conscripts, but they are planning to phase out conscription for an all-volunteer military some time in 2007.

Their military seems fairly modern, despite the image created by the Soviet hand-me-down equipment they are frequently seen operating, and they work fairly closely with the other nations involved in the GWoT. In Iraq, 149 Romanian Engineers and 56 Military Intelligence types operate in Ad Diwaniyah under Polish command. Working with the British in An Nasiriyah is an Infantry Batallion approx. 500 strong, along with 100 Military Police (including the scary-looking fellow on the right). There is also a medical contingent at Abu Ghraib and a few staff officers here and there. In Aghanistan the main Romanian force is an approx. 400 strong Infantry Batallion stationed in Kandahar as well as some officers training Afghan forces.

Sadly several Romanian soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The colourful names of units which had been deployed to the sandbox under the Romanian flag include “Black Scorpions”, “White Sharks”, “Bold Eagles” and “Carpathian Hawks”.

The Romanians remain staunch allies with no plans to pull out until they finish the job. You can find information about Romania here (looks like a great holiday destination!), more pictures of their military here and their official military home page here.

Below the fold: Italy and Japan.


Italy has a significant contingent of troops in Iraq – 2850 strong – assisting with security operations since the end of the invasion phase in 2003. They plan to have them back home by December 2006. Sadly, Italian forces have suffered significant losses, around 32 dead. One week which saw the death of eighteen of their Special Police (including fourteen in one bombing) likely contributed to their decision to remove their troops. I think the Italians deserve more international recognition for their sacrifice than they seem to receive.

The Italian forces also brought along some air transport assets, seen at right flying over relics of Ancient Babylon (which happens to be the name of their operation). They are also bringing in attack helicopters and IFVs at the moment. Most Italian troops are deployed at Nassiryah as mentioned above in relation to the Romanians who are operating with them. They in fact took over control of the area from US forces in July 2003. Italy also contributes maritime patrol, mine clearing and a hospital ship to the overall operation. Along with the Italian troops are a number of civilian engineers working on projects such as railroad reconstruction and desalinisation plants.

Here is a nice article written by an American National Guard soldier returned from Iraq detailing his positive interactions with the Italians. On the other hand, no mention of the Italian participation in Iraq can be complete without the mention of a slightly less positive interaction (perhaps “schlemozzle” would be a better word) involving the journalist Giuliana Sgrena. To their credit, despite the hysterics at the time, there was no Spain-like folding of will amongst the Italian politicians. I thank them for their significant commitment. After watching enough Hogan’s Heros episodes it’s easy to form an impression of the Italian military as a bunch of bumbling fools but this expidition has put paid to that stereotype. There is an Italian Defence Forces web site for more information but, unfortunately, I can’t find an English version.


I mentioned Japan recently in relation to the Australian soldiers who have been helping guard them as they perform their reconstruction work. Unsurprisingly, in addition to contributing engineers they have also sent medical personnel (pictured on the right). Projects their engineers have worked on (and in many cases, completed) include a medical center, water purification plants and schools.

It’s wonderful to see their commitment so echo my own sentiments:

 On the basis of our experience, we believe that reconstruction of a peaceful Iraq is necessary not only for the peace and stability of the entire Middle East region and the international community but also for the peace and prosperity of Japan itself. In cooperation with other countries, therefore, we plan to provide active assistance to Iraq with Japan Self-Defense Forces troops and civilians as well as with financial aid so Iraq can rebuild itself as soon as possible and its people can live in a free and prosperous society without concerns about their present or their future.

(More information about their commitment to Iraq can be found here.)

Many people are very cynical about the reasons for liberating Iraq (and in fact many would object to my use of the word “liberating”) but I feel, regardless of what the reasons for the decision may or may not have been, the opportunity itself is unique and we owe it to the Iraqis and the world in general to make the most of it. Oops, this is Murdoc’s blog and it’s HIS opinion that you are entitled to, so I should avoid any further political discussion at this point. However I hope that he would agree with my sentiments. And of course I won’t mention that if Iraq does turn out to be a bastion of freedom, security and stability in the otherwise trouble Middle East that would bode well for the security of western countries like the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. Oops.

Happily, our Japanese friends won’t be leaving any time soon.

Other posts in this series: #2 (Poland, Republic of Korea and Georgia), #3 (Australia, Denmark and El Salvador).

Foot note: I was saddened by how difficult it was to find the information for this post. Every time I searched for keywords like “romanian” “soldiers” “iraq” or “italian” “soldiers” “iraq”, most of the results I came up with had three types of titles: “Italy vows to pull troops out of Iraq”, “Romania says it won’t pull troops out of Iraq” or “Italian and Romanian soldiers killed in bombing attack”. I don’t know whether to roll my eyes or shake my head.

—posted by Nicholas.


  1. Does there exist a list of nations that have committed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, with the commitment normalized for population? When discussing with naysayers that scoff at the idea that our action wasn’t unilateral because of the 2 or 3 dozen nations that joined with us, I often bring up the *RELATIVE* commitment of these nations compared to their population, but I’d love to have some concrete numbers to back up those statements.

  2. Not that I know of.. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of who’s there right now with how many they each brought. It shouldn’t be too hard to run that through a spreadsheet against the populations of each nation. Give me a few minutes and I’ll do some quick calculations for the major players and post it up.

  3. unfortunately that summary doesn’t list troops in Afghanitan and I had a really hard time finding a source that did. But, I did the best I could. I divided the number of troops/engineers/medics a country has in Iraq+Afghanistan by the population of that country in millions and here is what I got: USA: 450 UK: 233 Netherlands: 112 Denmark: 110 Georgia: 80 Canada: 69 South Korea: 68 Latvia: 61 Romania: 59 El Salvador: 54 Mongolia: 48 Italy: 46 Australia: 42 Albania: 31 Lithuania: 30 Poland: 23 Slovakia: 21 Azerbaijan: 18 Czech Repub.: 9 Japan: 4 Total, USA+UK: 683 Total, rest: 885 So I think in these terms the multi-national component is not insignificant.

  4. By the way those totals are not the same thing as if you added up the total number of non-US/UK troops and divided by the total US/UK population. To get that you would need to average these numbers, rather than total them. What the totals DO represent is ‘total relative contribution’ in this sense: if you believed that each country which sends any troops counted the same in terms of SUPPORT for the GWoT, you would represent support as simply the total number of countries which sent troops. So you could say ’20 countries support this’ (or however many). But if (for some reason) believed that how much a country supported the GWoT was represented by how many troops they sent relative to their population, you would need a weight to weight their support. These calculations suggest that the relative support of countries other than the US and UK is greater than one (885/683) and even greater if you put the UK in the ‘other’ group. Still a far cry from the total number of countries participating, but also hard to claim that this support is insignificant.

  5. That’s interesting info. It also occurs to me it would be interesting to see it by percentage of active military committed. In the spirit of ‘DIY’, maybe I’ll try and rustle that up sometime myself. 🙂

  6. OK, here is the information I used to calculate that, with military # in Iraq+Afghanistan / Country Population: USA: 133000 / 295m UK: 8361 / 60m RoK: 3300 / 48m Italy: 2700 / 58m Poland: 900 / 39m Romania: 830 / 22m Geogia: 400 / 5m Japan: 600 / 127m Denmark: 550 / 5m Australia: 450 / 20m El Salvador: 380 / 7m Azerbaijan: 150 / 8m Mongola: 145 / 3m Albania: 125 / 4m Latvia: 122 / 2m Czech Republic: 90 / 10m Lithuania: 120 / 4m Slovakia: 105 / 5m If you can work out the active military size of each country the rest should be fairly easy.

  7. Nicholas, I think you might have shortchanged Oz a little. The security det in Baghdad is company size plus there is some command, training, EOD and medical units based around there as well. I understand that the total is closer to 750. It’s not much in the big scheme of things, but as a relative contribution it almost doubles your numbers.

  8. Well, I think you’re right, based on the fact that I missed the 200 or so deployed in Afghanistan. That would mean 450+200 = 650. You’re probably right that there are some others which are not counted in that total. It certainly brings us up much closer to Romania. I suspect the same is true of some of the others. If I read further into the Wikipedia entry I note that 200 sailors and some others were not included in the total of ‘450 soldiers’. Unfortunately it will take some time and some digging to come up with accurate numbers for each country 🙁 They’re just not listed in a straightforward manner.

  9. I’m certainly pleased to see the major contributions Romania and other NATO allies are making in the ongoing effort to fight terrorism. I would also like to see them get more recognition and appreciation, here in the western hemisphere, for what they’ve done, and continue to do. Thanks to Murdoc and others who’re raising our consciousness on thsi issue!

  10. Last March, I brought about 60+ Romanian troops to Kuwait from Constanta, along w/ about six of their BMP/BTR type vehicles and a couple of trucks. They were making their deployment to Iraq for the first time. They seemed very eager to get to ‘the show’ and very eager to learn about America. Hopefully they kicked some a**…

  11. I served with the Romanians in Afghanistan and they were a professional force that was looked by other CF as a God send. They had a common sense ROE and the Taliban learned the hard way to fear them. I would serve with them again in a heartbeat. All they need some more high tech equipment, logistics and CAS and they could hold their own.