Coalition of the Willing’ features Iceland, monkey brigade

Coalition of the Willing features Iceland, monkey brigade

by Matt Morain

The lingo of “Operation: Iraqi Freedom” can be hard to decipher at times. In order to present clear arguments for either side of the war debate, one needs to have as much information on the topic as possible. The “Coalition of the Willing,” for example, is a term we hear a lot yet don’t know everything about, but should.


According to the Bush administration and press reports, the coalition is currently made up of: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.

Not all of the aforementioned countries are contributing military troops, of course. The United States and Great Britain are practically the only human combat suppliers, with roughly 250,000 and 45,000 respectively. Australia put in its 2,000 cents worth, with Spain and Denmark throwing in a smaller number of non-ground combat troops.

Still, it’s interesting to see what kind of indirect military aid is being offered to the coalition’s effort to remove Saddam. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, in an op-ed last week in The Wall Street Journal, wrote that the Australian Navy is supporting coalition troops and clearing mines, Polish special forces are defending an oil platform, a Danish submarine is patrolling nearby waters, and “Czech and Slovak special chemical and biological-weapons response forces” are standing by to respond to bio-warfare attacks.

Most of the countries that have joined the coalition – which requires only that a nation offer “political support” – have done so in order to either keep or to start receiving economic aid from the United States. Six of the countries (Costa Rica, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the Solomon Islands) have no military. Willing? Yes. Able? No.

The United States doesn’t necessarily need the coalition to complete “Operation: Iraqi Freedom,” but the assistance is helpful. Mostly, the allied effort is to show that the whole world is not against the war and against the United States, making the coalition more symbolic than anything. The United States and United Kingdom notwithstanding, the rest of the coalition spends a combined $25 billion a year on defense, less than Britain by itself and less than one-tenth of U.S. military spending.

There are some countries that have not been publicly named but are nonetheless contributing to the Allied effort, in some cases much more than those on the list. Israel and several Arab states are, according to Rice, providing “supplies, logistical and intelligence support, basing and over-flight rights, and humanitarian and reconstruction aid.” Those countries, which are also likely future members of the coalition, are: Saudi Arabia, Qatar (where Coalition HQ is located), Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. Over 8,000 troops have been sent collectively by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Oman to Kuwait to help to symbolically defend the country.

In 1991, during the first Gulf War, Allied forces footed ninety percent of the costs, leaving the United States to only pay for ten. This time around, however, the United States got stuck with the bill like an unsatisfied prom date, prompting Bush to ask Congress for $75 billion. Moreover, every member of the first 34-nation alliance in the first go-round contributed militarily with troops, aircraft, ships or medics.

The coalition is still growing and evolving. By the war’s end, assistance provided to the United States and Great Britain will take many forms, some more peculiar than others. According to the wire service, Morocco’s weekly al Usbu’ al-Siyassi claimed that Morocco has offered 2,000 monkeys to help detonate land mines. Hang on – monkeys?

SGT: Alright boys, orders just came in. Gen. Tommy Franks wants to deploy the 23rd Monkey Engineers, “The Curious Goners.”

PVT: Aw, Sarge. But they’re so cute…

SGT: Sorry Jansen. I put in the request to allow them to serve as substitute small arms poo-flinging militiamen, but we got denied.

PVT: Damn dirty apes…

Good luck to our commanders and troops. And for the love of God, don’t forget to pray for the monkeys.