NATO launched a new training programme in Iraq on Sunday (5 February 2017), teaching Iraqi security forces to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Around 30 enlisted soldiers are participating in the first five-week course. ''NATO's training and capacity building in Iraq is strengthening the country's ability to fight ISIL and provide for its own security,'' said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO Allies are supplying protective equipment to Iraqi security forces as part of their training. The new counter-IED training scheme will run alongside NATO-run courses in Iraq on civil-military cooperation. Since January 2017, NATO advisers have been working in the country, overseeing training activities and working with the Iraqi authorities to reform their security institutions. NATO has been training Iraqi security forces in several areas, including counter-IED, explosive ordnance disposal and de-mining in neighbouring Jordan. At the Warsaw Summit in July of last year, Allies agreed to expand this training into Iraq itself.
The Secretary General stressed that training Iraqi forces is an important part of NATO’s contribution to the fight against terrorism, which includes AWACS surveillance support to the Coalition against ISIL. "The best weapon we have in the fight against terrorism is to train local forces," said Mr. Stoltenberg, adding that "a more effective Iraqi military means a safer Iraq, and a more stable Middle East."