WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Thirteen more countries publicly acknowledged their support of the U.S. war against Iraq bringing the total to 43, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The "coalition of the willing" now includes Angola, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iceland, Kuwait, Mongolia, Portugal, Rwanda, Singapore and Uganda, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday the coalition is larger than that which supported the 1991 Persian Gulf War. While that is true in terms of countries that have declared support, the help they are offering is far less. Only the United Kingdom and Australia have acknowledged sending troops to fight, 45,000 and 2,000 respectively. There were more than 250,000 coalition combat soldiers in the Persian Gulf.
Also, coalition countries pledged more than $50 billion to cover the cost $61 billion of the 1991 war. The United States is carrying the cost of this conflict largely on its own. It could cost more than $70 billion for combat and reconstruction, according to government estimates, depending on the length of the war and the amount of damage inflicted.
"Our policy is to accept help from countries on a basis that is comfortable to them and let them characterize how, in fact, they are helping the coalition," Rumsfeld said Thursday. "As the operation unfolds, the number of countries publicly associating themselves with the coalition is likely to grow, just as it has with Operation Enduring Freedom. The coalition in Iraq includes countries from every part of the world, including a large number of Muslim-majority countries. Some are supporting the effort publicly; others are doing so privately."
The only Middle Eastern country that acknowledges its participation is Kuwait, the victim of an Iraqi invasion in 1990 that precipitated the first Gulf War. Kuwait has played host to more than 150,000 U.S. foot soldiers in the build up to the war, which began with a small volley of air strikes on Wednesday.
The State Department announced the first 29 members of the coalition on Tuesday, saying 15 more remained to be named. It includes Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan.