Iraq: August 13, 2003


The multinational Plus Ultra brigade headed by Spain will be fully deployed and operational in the Iraqi provinces of Al-Qadisiyah and Al-Najaf on August 28. The transfer of control and the total withdrawal of the US units will begin on the 25th and will end on the 28th, at a rate of one company a day. The Spanish deployed an advance team of 490 troops, followed by the main body of 915 that deployed to their camp in Al-Qadisiyah on August 9 and 14.

The Brigade is lead by General Alfredo Carmona, a veteran of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992-93 and 1996-97 who is emphatic about the Spanish mission's sovereignty and it's ability to deal with situations appropriately. If attacked, the Spaniards with 'respond with all force', but by the same token they don't intend to over-respond to problems.

Central American nations are also supporting the international effort in Iraq; 360 El Salvadoran, 370 Honduran and 115 Nicaraguan soldiers left for Spain in mid-August to join a battalion from the Dominican Republic. They would train for a week, then be sent to Iraq via Kuwait. These Spanish-speaking will be under Carmona's as well, with the whole Brigade working inside the military sector overseen by Poland. 

The Spanish military denied equipping their contingent with six Italian Centauro combat vehicles, instead of the VEC reconnaissance vehicles. The Centauros are armed with a 105/52mm gun, while the VEC only has a 25mm. This would have added considerably to the brigade's firepower, but Carmona denied ever asking for them. The Centauros will be sent out by air in the next few days. The Spanish also decided against sending a Civil Guard detachment along to act as Military Police. - Adam Geibel




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