News BlogGulf Middle EastMissions Operations

Coalition against Daesh. Unnecessary personnel evacuated. Europeans leave Baghdad and some bases in Iraq (v3)

(B2) There seems to have been a general order to evacuate military personnel present as part of the coalition operation against Daesh, Inherent Resolve, and the NATO training mission in Iraq. And this movement could accelerate in the days to come

German soldiers deployed in operation (© Bundeswehr / Jana Leuman - Archives B2)

A very real order...

La leaked letter of the U.S. commander in Iraq, Marine Gen. William H. Seely, was perhaps " a draft authentic, as argued by the American authorities, it seems to have been followed in spirit. A letter recommending (or ordering) the redeployment of the troops present in 'central' Iraq (Badgad, central Iraq, etc.) outside the country, to neighboring Kuwait for HQ personnel, or to Jordan for example.

... forwarded to coalition partners

The German Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs refer to it in their letter sent to the Bundestag (read: Germany withdraws troops from Baghdad and central Iraq). And in several European capitals, a decision was taken and announced to temporarily withdraw their troops from Iraq and redeploy them in other nearby countries. A decision " taken for security reasons ". Canada, which has a large contingent (about 500 personnel, half in the NATO training mission in Iraq (NMI), the rest in the coalition against Daesh, aka operation 'Impact' for Canadians) announced transfer some personnel to Kuwait. A transfer which results from a " coalition and NATO planning writes the Chief of the Defense Staff, General JH Vance in a letter sent to families on January 7.

The fear of an attack 'green on blue'

What the military fear above all (for the moment) are more so-called 'Green on blue' attacks, coming from (Iraqi) soldiers trained by Coalition or NATO troops or from employees premises, than air strikes (1).

A dozen countries have already or are in the process of withdrawing their troops

According to the information provided officially, and compiled by B2, the Germans, British, Bulgarians (two officers repatriated to Kuwait), Croats (21 soldiers), Latvians, Romanians (14 soldiers), Slovaks, Slovenes (six soldiers), already withdrawn or relocated their troops. Others did so partially for a few officers present in Baghdad, such as the Spaniards (10 soldiers out of the 13 in Baghdad), the Dutch or the Lithuanians (3 soldiers out of the 15 in Iraq). Some countries (Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Sweden) did not carry out such a repatriation, sometimes quite simply because their troops were not in the center of Iraq, but in Iraqi Kurdistan.

A movement called to accelerate

The latest Iranian missile strikes, particularly in Erbil, Kurdistan this Wednesday morning, could change the situation and lead to the withdrawal or securing of some additional personnel. Everything will depend on the coalition command's assessment of the internal threat. To be continued...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Updated at 18 p.m., 20 p.m. and 23 p.m. with details on several countries (Lithuania, Canada, Netherlands)

  1. The bases of the coalition have already been the target on several occasions in recent weeks of rocket fire: “ thirteen attacks in total in the last two months “says on January 5, the spokesman, Colonel Myles B. Caggins III on Twitter. The last two dating from January 4 with two rocket attacks on Baghdad and Balad.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).