NATO helps Iraqi forces strengthen vehicle maintenance skills
Iraqi military instructors are further developing their skills in maintaining Soviet-era vehicles, with NATO support. On Tuesday (17 April 2018), they successfully completed a training course at the Taji military base, in the outskirts of Baghdad.
Twelve trainees have been awarded the title of instructor, following a rigorous and comprehensive training programme conducted by the Polish-led Mobile Training Team over several months. The training focused on the maintenance and repair of BMP-1 and T-72 armoured vehicles. “The selected 12 trainers will help to strengthen the maintenance and repair training capability of the Iraqi Security Forces,” said Colonel Pawel Piecyk, Commander of the Polish Training Team.
This was the first of NATO’s training activities in Iraq to reach Phase III of the Alliance’s “train the trainer” model. This means that the graduates of the course are fully-qualified instructors who will be assigned to Iraqi military schools to train their fellow soldiers and perform advisory and mentoring functions. By building the skills of the Iraqi Security Forces, NATO will help them provide for their own security in a sustainable fashion.
Major General Hassan Hillel Al-Maliki, Director of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence’s Maintenance Department, highlighted the high value of the NATO training for the Iraqi Security Forces. He noted that “to prevent Da’esh from re-emerging, we need to continue improving the skills of our soldiers. This training is just one step in our NATO-Iraq cooperation; and we are looking forward to further enhancing our partnership.” Ms Beata Peksa, Ambassador of Poland in Iraq further added that “the training was mutually beneficial for Polish and Iraqi soldiers as they had an opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences.”
The graduation ceremony was attended by representatives from NATO, Poland, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Slovakia, and the US Embassy in Iraq.
Another NATO training course on Soviet-era maintenance training started this past March, led by Slovak and Polish trainers. Phase II of this course will conclude at the end of May 2018.
NATO launched training and capacity building efforts for Iraq in 2016, at the request of the Iraqi government.