(Article changed on September 25, 2012 at 17:17)
Partners Across the Asia-Pacific: NATO Reinforces Pentagon's Shift to East
On September 24 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization granted Iraq the second Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme under the auspices of the bloc's latest military collaboration and integration framework, partners across the globe (1).
The latter program (for which the substantives are occasionally capitalized), NATO's latest, incorporates to date eight nations in the broader Asia-Pacific region (including West Asia, the Middle East) that have supplied troops for the U.S.-led military organization's war in Afghanistan under International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command or are subsumed under NATO consultative arrangements and training programs like the Afghanistan-Pakistan-ISAF Tripartite Commission, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and the NATO Training Mission - Iraq.
The partners across the globe currently are Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Korea. Among the 50 nations providing NATO with troop contingents for the war in South Asia are additional Asia-Pacific states not covered by other international NATO partnership formats like the Partnership for Peace (22 nations in Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia), the Mediterranean Dialogue (seven nations in North Africa and the Middle East, with Libya to be the eighth) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which targets the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).
Those states - Malaysia, Singapore and Tonga - are likely the next candidates for the new global partnership, as are Latin American troop contributors like El Salvador (present) and Colombia (announced). The inclusion of the last will mark the expansion of NATO, through memberships and partnerships, to all six inhabited continents.
In the past two years there has been discussion about NATO establishing a collective partnership arrangement, which could include individual partnerships as well, with the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which are, in addition to Malaysia and Singapore, mentioned above, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
During the NATO summit in Chicago this May, Secretary General Rasmussen met with what were identified as 13 partners across the globe.
Regarding the new partnership agreement with Iraq, the NATO website reports that it follows and builds upon the eight-year NATO Training Mission-Iraq, which was employed to train thousands of Iraq officers, soldiers and oil police, and "inaugurates a full-fledged partnership." (2)