A new NATO-led mission in Iraq started its work to further develop the Iraq’s security institutions and structures, NATO said on Saturday.
The new mission, called NATO Mission Iraq, was launched at the NATO Summit held in Brussels on 11 and 12 July 2018, following a request by the Iraqi government. The mission is led by Major General Dany Fortin of the Canadian Armed Forces, and builds on prior training and capacity-building efforts carried out in the country since January 2017 by NATO civilian and military personnel.
Lieutenant General Jamil al Shimari, Commander of Iraq’s National Defence University, expressed his appreciation for NATO support, saying: "This mission is important because properly trained Iraqi security forces are those who made the difference, ultimately, in the defeat of ISIS."
Jana Kotorova, NATO Deputy Senior Civilian in Iraq, highlighted that NATO’s prior efforts in Iraq "have laid the foundations for this follow-on mission, by developing training models that fit with Iraqi requirements for the reform of Iraq’s national security structures and institutions." She added: "Until now, about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have been trained to become instructors at different Iraqi military schools. NATO advisors have been working side by side with Iraqi officials, in a spirit of close coordination and partnership. With the establishment of the new mission, NATO will contribute to the stability of the country by providing further training and advice to Iraqi security institutions and structures." The outgoing NATO senior officer in Iraq, Brigadier General Francesco Giuliano, pointed out that through past training and capacity building activities in Iraq NATO has established "a strong network amongst Iraqi interlocutors; it is through this kind of networks and relationships that the new NATO Mission will boost the reform of Iraq’s security institutions further." Major General Fortin said: "I look forward to growing the relationship fostered by the NATO training and capacity building in Iraq between the Government of Iraq and NATO, leveraging the full weight of the Alliance to help enhance Iraqi security institutions."
The new NATO Mission Iraq is expected to be fully set up in early 2019. It will be a non-combat mission, and will have advisors working closely with officials of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence and the Office of the National Security Advisor to help Iraq build a more effective, sustainable, inclusive and transparent defence sector. It will also train Iraqi instructors at Iraqi military schools and academies in such areas as countering explosive devices, civil-military planning, armoured vehicle maintenance, and military medicine. It will include several hundred personnel, with fully integrated civilian staff. It will also help the Alliance’s coordination with many other actors on the ground, including the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the UN, the EU, individual NATO Allies, and relevant Iraqi Ministries and representatives of Iraqi civil society.