Plus Ultra Brigade
The Plus Ultra Brigade, or Brigada Hispanoamericana, was a military contingent of mixed personnel from Spain (some 1,300 troops), the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua (about 1,200 troops between the four), which was commissioned to support coalition troops in the Iraq War. The deployment started in July 2003. The brigade's name was a reference to Plus Ultra, the national motto of Spain. The battalions of the four Hispanic-American countries were equipped and transported by the U.S. military, and received some specific training in Germany prior to their arrival to the Persian Gulf.
The Spaniards were based in Al-Qādisiyyah, and the Central Americans in Najaf, in south-central Iraq, near Dīwānīyah. Their objective was to relieve the U.S. Marine Corps in the area so that the Marines could be transferred to other, more problematic regions in the country.
During their tenure in the region, the Plus Ultra Brigade's troops had few hostile clashes with insurgents. Some of their camps were harassed with RPG and grenade attacks, but there were few casualties. There was only one serious incident, a skirmish with insurgents in early April 2004 in Najaf, which resulted in the death of one Salvadoran soldier and 44 wounded, including 11 Spanish soldiers. The Rules of Engagement that the units followed were very restrictive and the authorization to use deadly force needed high command clearance, due to a directive seeking to "avoid or minimize at all costs collateral damage to people or property".
The Plus Ultra Brigade finally dissolved in April 2004, when the recently elected new Spanish socialist government and the governments of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras decided to withdraw their troops (a decision that somewhat tensed Spain–United States relations). The lack of public support for the deployment and the war in Iraq was cited as the main reason, with Nicaragua additionally stating its financial constraints.
The Salvadoran military had (200) troops in Iraq by December 2008: a reduction of almost half from its original deployment of 380 soldiers. Salvadoran troops were withdrawn in 2009.
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