skip to main content

NATO to expand Iraq training mission

After a slowdown of its activities due to security concerns in early 2020 and subsequent pandemic restrictions, the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) will now expand its size, scope of activities, and geographic coverage, allied NATO defence ministers agreed during a virtual meeting on 18 February.

“We will do this step-by-step, based on demands from the Iraqi authorities,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters when announcing the decision after the meeting. “Training Iraq’s forces is the best way to prevent ISIS [the Islamic State or Daesh] from returning.”

Stoltenberg said NMI’s current deployment of around 500 personnel will grow to 4,000, while its geographic scope will expand “gradually” from its three training sites in Baghdad to other parts of the country.

The mission currently provides advice to Iraq’s military schools around Baghdad on policy and strategy, force generation, resource management, and other security sector aspects. NMI will now broaden its advice to target more of Iraq’s defence and security institutions.

More importantly, many of NMI’s additional troops will be re-assigned from the US-led coalition so that NMI takes on more counter-terrorist training of Iraqi troops.

Although the Islamic State lost its last territorial toehold in Iraq in early 2018, it and other armed groups still pose a threat to the country’s security, as demonstrated by a 15 February rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed a US civilian contractor and injured several others, including a US soldier.

Stoltenberg said the Islamic State “is still there and operating in Iraq and we need to make sure they cannot return [as before]. Force protection enablers will be part of the increased NATO presence there.”

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...