The 12-nation European Union is building its own army, called the Eurocorps, with three nations so far contributing troops--Germany, France, and Belgium. But the Eurocorps, aimed at giving Europe a force separate from that of the U.S.-dominated NATO, is suffering from language and cultural difficulties.

Smaller and more tightly integrated than NATO forces, which operate with large units of one nationality, the Eurocorps has some units with troops from different countries. In the Eurocorps, which expects a troop strength of 45,000 by 1995, beer- and sausage-loving German grunts must tolerate a French cook. Belgian soldiers no longer get Dec. 6 off--their equivalent of Christmas Day. And there's an imbroglio over the Belgians' demand to translate tactical documents into Dutch, which many mf them speak. It will get more complex this summer when Spanish troops join.

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