NATO Mission Iraq
On the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to establish a 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. Training activities on the ground have temporarily been suspended, as of early January 2020, due to current tensions in the Middle East.
- At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, NATO leaders agreed to launch NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), on the request of Iraq.
- NMI is a non-combat training and capacity-building mission, conducted with full respect of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- It was established in Baghdad in October 2018 and involves around 500 trainers, advisors and supporting personnel from Allied and partner countries, including Australia, Sweden and Finland.
NMI is designed to help strengthen Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions by providing training and advice to relevant Iraqi defence and security officials within the Ministry of Defence, the Office of the National Security Advisor, and Iraqi military schools and military education institutions. The mission will help Iraq develop its capacity to build more sustainable, transparent, inclusive and effective national security structures and professional military education institutions.
The mission fully integrates civil and military personnel, thereby multiplying the effectiveness of NATO’s efforts and maximising cooperation with other entities on the ground. NMI complements broader international efforts to increase the long-term stability of Iraq and the region, coordinating its support with international partners in Iraq, including the Global Coalition, the European Union and the United Nations. Furthermore, the mission integrates gender perspectives into every stage of the initiating, concept and planning processes. A gender adviser is deployed as part of the senior advisory group, and gender issues are considered throughout the planning, guidance, future review and assessment processes.
In sum, the mission and its objectives can be described as follows:
- It contributes to overall efforts to counter terrorism by helping Iraq strengthen its security forces and prevent the re-emergence of the Da'esh terrorist group.
- It is advising the Iraqi military education institutions and enhances a self-sustaining Iraqi training capability by developing a cadre of Iraqi instructors in a variety of disciplines.
- It is advising the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Office of the National Security Advisor, and relevant national security institutions to make a lasting impact. Adding advisory activities at the institutional level to the initial training activities reinforces the international community’s broader efforts to reform and strengthen Iraqi security institutions and structures.
- In coordination and cooperation with the Global Coalition and the efforts by individual Allies and international organisations, it instructs on countering corruption, rule of law, the law of armed conflict, protection of civilians, children and armed conflict, and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
- It 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 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. NATO’s advisory activities are conducted in Baghdad, including in the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Office of the National Security Advisor, and relevant national security institutions. NATO’s training activities are carried out at the Iraqi military schools in the Baghdad area, Besmaya and Taji. The following military schools are considered as initial training locations:
- Ministry of Defence
- Office of the National Security Advisor
- Prime Minister’s National Operations Centre
- Defence University for Military Studies
- Computer Science School
- Military Medical School
- Bomb Disposal (EOD/C-IED) School
- Armour School
- Military Electrical and Mechanical Engineering School
- Military Engineering School
- Military Transportation School
- Military School of Administration and Logistics
- Military Signals School
- Military Intelligence and Security School
- Non-Commissioned Officers Academy
NATO Mission Iraq comes under the command of Major General Jennie Carignan of Canada, who assumed responsibility for this post on 26 November 2019. She succeeds Major General Dany Fortin of Canada (31 October 2018 - 25 November 2019) as commander.
NMI falls under the authority of Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples, which is one of 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 (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 in 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 establishment of NMI in 2018.