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US Planning Drive to Build Foreign Peace Forces
Alex Belida
VOA, Pentagon
19 Apr 2004, 22:03 UTC


The Bush administration is planning a new drive to boost the supply of foreign troops available for peacekeeping missions worldwide. If successful, the initiative could ease the pressure on U.S. forces to participate in such operations.

Senior Pentagon officials are billing the program as the first comprehensive, U.S.-driven multilateral effort aimed at increasing the number of global forces available for peace operations.

Speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, the senior officials said the program, to be called the Global Peace Operations Initiative, will see the United States commit substantial resources over the next five years to train, equip and provide logistical support to forces in nations willing to participate in peace operations.

The officials said details of the program are still being worked out ahead of a formal announcement by President Bush in the weeks ahead.

They stressed the initiative is not intended to be a unilateral effort and other nations will be asked to contribute trainers and other resources.

The program was first reported in the Washington Post newspaper. It said the initiative grows out of what it describes as "the frequent struggle by administration officials to recruit enough foreign forces for peacekeeping missions."

Defense officials confirmed that has been a concern. They noted the administration had to scramble to assemble a peace force for Haiti, ultimately putting together a contingent of troops from the United States, France, Canada and Chile. That force will eventually be replaced by a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Defense officials say the campaign will be aimed initially at improving the peacekeeping skills of African forces for duties not only in Africa but elsewhere worldwide.

The program will also include assistance for expanding the peacekeeping capacity of forces in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Defense officials said the training they envision will cover not only peacekeeping, but also humanitarian assistance and counter-insurgency skills.