NATO Mulls Reducing Iraq Military Instructors

NATO (search) is considering scaling down plans to send military instructors to Iraq (search), the alliance top commander said Friday.

U.S. Gen. James L. Jones (search) insisted the reduction was due to the capacity of Iraq's forces to do more of the training themselves rather than NATO's difficulties in mustering personnel for the mission.

Jones told reporters the current plan was to raise the about 100 NATO soldiers presently in Iraq to 159 in the coming weeks. Last month, the alliance said it wanted to put 300 instructors and support staff on the ground early this year.

Jones acknowledged that talk of a longer-term deployment of 300 instructors and up to 300 guards and other backup was an overestimate.

"Iraqis have quite a bit of capacity to do the mission themselves," Jones said. "I don't think we will want to send any more than we have to."

Jones also suggested the development of Afghanistan's own forces could mean that NATO needed to send fewer peacekeepers than expected to expand its mission there.

NATO has been struggling to persuade governments to commit extra troops to both its Iraqi and Afghan missions.

In Iraq, the problem has been compounded by the refusal of France, Germany and other nations that opposed the U.S. led war to send trainers.