NATO Mission Iraq

  • Last updated: 18 Nov. 2021 13:13

NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat mission that aims to strengthen Iraqi security institutions and forces so that they are able to prevent the return of ISIS, fight terrorism and stabilise their country. It was at the NATO Summit in Brussels in July 2018, following a request from the government of Iraq, that Allied Leaders launched this advisory and capacity-building mission in Iraq, which was established in October 2018.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg views NATO Training Camp Base-Iraq activities at Camp Besmaya, Iraq, March 5, 2018. Stoltenberg greeted NATO trainers and Iraqi troops while touring the facilities


  • NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat advisory 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 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 Daesh/ISIS, the European Union and the United Nations.
  • In February 2021, NATO defence ministers agreed to expand NMI, as requested by the Iraqi government.


  • The aim and contours of the mission

    NMI is designed to help strengthen Iraqi security institutions and forces so that they themselves can prevent the return of ISIS, fight terrorism 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, NATO advises relevant Iraqi defence and security officials in their ministry of defence, Office of the National Security Advisor and Prime Minister’s National Operations Centre. The mission also advises Iraq’s professional military education institutions in the greater Baghdad area. Specific areas of focus include policy and strategy; force generation and development; resource management; Women, Peace and Security; leadership development; and good governance in the security sector.

    In February 2021, NATO defence ministers decided to expand the NATO mission, following a request by the Iraqi government. Any expansion of the mission will be incremental, upon Iraqi request, and could include advisory and training activities beyond the greater Baghdad area. It will be based on the requirements and consent of the Iraqi authorities and the conditions on the ground. All activities of NATO Mission Iraq are agreed upon by the Iraqi government and conducted in full respect of Iraq’s sovereignty 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

    NMI acts in coordination and cooperation with partners like the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/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.

    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, the Prime Minister’s National Operations Centre 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.
  • Command of the mission

    NATO Mission Iraq is commanded by Lieutenant-General Michael Lollesgaard (Denmark), who assumed responsibility for this post on 6 May 2021.

    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 evolution of NATO’s cooperation with 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 Allies 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.