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US General Criticizes NATO Allies for Refusing Mission in Iraq

The top U.S. military commander in Europe has criticized NATO countries that are refusing to provide military instructors for a training mission in Iraq. He says the result will be an increased burden on those allies who are participating. General James Jones, the head of the U.S. European Command, made the remarks Tuesday in Washington.

General Jones says up to 11 of the 26 countries that make up the NATO alliance are not sending instructors to Iraq even though they voted to approve the mission there.

The general did not name the countries, but France, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg and Greece have refused publicly to provide personnel.

While NATO has long played a postwar peacekeeping role in Afghanistan, many European governments still disapprove of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.

General Jones says the failure of some NATO countries to provide forces for the training mission in Iraq puts an extra burden on the nations that are providing troops.

"This is disturbing," said General Jones. "I hope it is a one-time event because it really will be a limiting factor in the long-term in terms of generating forces and successive rotations. So those kinds of impediments, on the one hand a unanimous vote that says we will do this, and on the other hand you hear the words, but not all of us, makes it difficult for the operational commanders to be successful."

As designed, the mission would involve up to 400 instructors and about 1200 troops to protect them.

The decision to use forces from NATO nations to train Iraqi officers is the first collective action in Iraq by the alliance, although some individual NATO members have contributed troops.

In his speech to the National Press Club, General Jones also said future plans to realign U.S. forces around the world will mean more troops will be sent to Africa.

The general says while U.S. military activity in Africa in the past has largely been reactive, an increased presence is necessary now as radicals move into ungoverned areas of the continent.