NATO Mission Iraq
On the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to establish an advisory, training and capacity-building mission in Iraq in October 2018. NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is helping to strengthen Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions so that Iraqi forces can prevent the return of ISIS/Da’esh.
- NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat advisory, training and capacity-building mission, conducted in full respect of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- It was established in Baghdad in October 2018 and currently involves several hundred trainers, advisors and supporting personnel from Allied and partner countries, including Australia, Finland and Sweden.
- NMI coordinates with a wide range of other international stakeholders, including the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the European Union and the United Nations.
- In February 2021, NATO defence ministers agreed to expand NMI, as requested by the Iraqi government.
NMI is designed to help strengthen Iraqi security institutions and forces so that they themselves can prevent the return of ISIS, fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stabilise their country.
The mission fully integrates civil and military personnel, and works closely with other international actors on the ground. NMI complements a broader international effort to increase the long-term stability of Iraq and the region. To achieve this, NMI acts in coordination and cooperation with partners like the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the European Union and the United Nations. Furthermore, the mission integrates gender perspectives throughout its activities, with a gender adviser deployed as part of the senior advisory group.
NATO does not deploy its personnel alongside Iraqi forces during combat operations and it only trains members of the Iraqi security forces under direct and effective control of the government of Iraq. Geographically, NATO’s training, advisory and capacity-building activities are focused on the Greater Baghdad area; with the decision taken in February 2021 to expand the mission, activities will include areas beyond Baghdad, as well as more Iraqi security institutions. Furthermore, according to requirements from the Iraqi authorities and conditions on the ground, troop numbers will increase from roughly 500 troops to approximately 4,000.
In sum, NATO Mission Iraq:
- contributes to the fight against terrorism by helping Iraq strengthen its security forces and prevent the re-emergence of ISIS.
- advises the Iraqi military education institutions and helps Iraq build a sustainable training capability through a train-the-trainers approach.
- advises the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Office of the National Security Advisor, and other relevant national security institutions to build more sustainable, transparent, inclusive and effective security institutions and structures.
- instructs on the rule of law, the law of armed conflict, countering corruption, the protection of civilians, children and armed conflict, and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
- is a non-combat mission founded on partnership and inclusivity as well as on full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
NATO Mission Iraq is commanded by Lieutenant-General Per Olsen (Denmark), who assumed responsibility for this post on 24 November 2020.
NMI falls under the authority of Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples, which is one of NATO’s two operational-level commands that stands ready to plan, conduct and sustain NATO operations of differing size and scope across the full spectrum of military response. In addition to managing operations from Naples or from the theatre of operation, JFC Naples also supports Allied Command Operations and NATO Headquarters in various functions such as training personnel and facilitating cooperation with partners.
The mission builds on work previously conducted through other NATO training and capacity-building activities in Iraq. NMI is a new iteration of a long-standing relationship between the Alliance and Iraq, providing expertise and best practice in the reform of security structures, defence institution building, and training and education from the entire Alliance and its partners from all over the world.
From 2004 to 2011, NATO conducted a relatively small but important support operation in Iraq that consisted of training, mentoring and assisting the Iraqi security forces. It was known as the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) and became part of the international effort to help Iraq establish effective and accountable security forces. NTM-I delivered training, advice and mentoring support in a number of different settings. All NATO member countries contributed to the training effort either in or outside of Iraq, through financial contributions or donations of equipment. In parallel and reinforcing this initiative, NATO also worked with the Iraqi government on a structured cooperation framework to develop the Alliance’s long-term relationship with Iraq.
In July 2015, in response to a request by the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to provide defence and related security capacity building support. In April 2016, it began conducting a number of “train-the-trainer’’ courses in Jordan for Iraqis (more than 350 Iraqi security and military personnel were trained). Then, following a request from the Iraqi Prime Minister, at the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO leaders agreed to provide NATO training and capacity-building activities to Iraqi security and military forces within Iraq. In January 2017, NATO deployed a modest but scalable Core Team to Baghdad of eight civilian and military personnel, setting up NATO’s permanent presence in Iraq. Jordan-based training transferred to Iraq in February 2017. The Core Team coordinated all NATO assistance provided to Iraq in 2017-2018 and laid the foundation for the subsequent establishment of NMI in 2018.