Relations with Iraq
NATO and Iraq are engaged in political dialogue and practical cooperation aimed at developing the capacity of Iraq’s security forces, its defence and security institutions, and its national defence academies. Following the defeat of ISIL/Daesh in Iraq and the restoration of sovereign control of all its territory in late 2017, NATO is scaling up its training and advising efforts in Iraq at the government’s request.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the President of the Republic of Iraq, Fouad Massoum (March 2016)
- Iraq is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – often referred to as "partners across the globe" – with which NATO is developing relations.
- Relations with Iraq build on cooperation that developed through the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) from 2004 to 2011, during which 15,000 officers were trained.
- In 2011, NATO agreed to grant Iraq partner status and a jointly agreed Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme was signed in September 2012, providing a framework for political dialogue and tailored cooperation.
- At the 2014 NATO Summit, Allied leaders expressed readiness to consider undertaking measures with Iraq in the framework of NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative.
- At the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed in July 2015 on a package of defence capacity building measures to provide assistance in a number of priority areas where NATO could provide added value. The first phase of out-of-country training was launched in April 2016, with a ‘train-the-trainers’ course provided to 350 Iraqi officers in Jordan.
- At the 2016 NATO Summit, Allied leaders decided to provide direct support to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL/Daesh with NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft. They also agreed to provide a training and capacity-building effort within Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government.
- In January 2017, a small Core Team of NATO civilian and military personnel was established in Baghdad to coordinate training and capacity-building activities in support of Iraqi security forces and institutions. Mobile security sector reform teams began to travel to Iraq to conduct training.
- In May 2017, NATO became a full member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL/Daesh, in which all individual Allies were already taking part.
- NATO commended Iraqi security forces for defeating ISIL/Daesh in Iraq and restoring sovereign control over all of its territory in late 2017.
- At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allied leaders launched a non-combat training and capacity-building mission in Iraq, in response to a request from the Government of Iraq to scale up training and advising efforts. The NATO Mission Iraq will provide additional support to Iraq’s efforts to stabilise the country and fight terrorism.
More background information
Cooperation between NATO and Iraq is based on principles of respect for sovereignty, international law, joint ownership and mutual benefit. The partnership serves to anchor and bolster Iraq’s capacity to contribute constructively to regional security. It reflects NATO’s long-standing commitment to the development of Iraq’s capabilities to address shared challenges and threats.
NATO first began its relationship with Iraq by establishing a NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) in 2004, at the request of the interim Iraqi government and in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, to help Iraq create effective armed forces by providing training and mentoring and donating equipment. From 2004 to 2011, NTM-I trained over 5,000 military personnel and over 10,000 police personnel in Iraq. Nearly 2,000 courses were provided in Allied countries. Over Euro 115 million worth of military equipment was donated and Euro 17.5 million in trust fund donations were provided from 26 Allies.
In April 2011, NATO agreed to grant Iraq partner status. Through a jointly agreed Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP), NATO and Iraq undertook further efforts to develop the capacity of Iraq’s security and defence institutions. This programme provides a framework for political dialogue and for training cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, crisis management and critical energy infrastructure protection.
At the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, Allied leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the NATO-Iraq partnership and expressed readiness to consider measures in the framework of NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative. This initiative was launched to strengthen the Alliance’s contribution to international security, stability and conflict prevention. It is demand-driven and offers partners – at their request – assistance beyond what is available under existing programmes, building on NATO's extensive expertise in providing advice, assistance, support, training, education and mentoring activities in the defence and related security sector.
Following a request from Prime Minister Al-Abadi, a DCB package for Iraq was agreed by Allies in July 2015. It includes assistance measures in the areas of countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED), explosive ordnance disposal and demining; military medicine and medical assistance; advice on security sector reform; civil-military planning support to operations; civil emergency planning and preparedness; cyber defence; and military training.
In 2016, 350 Iraqi officers were trained at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Jordan in the immediate priority areas of C-IED, military medicine and civil-military planning. Beginning with mobile team visits to Iraq in February 2016, NATO has also provided advice to Iraqi authorities on security sector reform.
At the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, Allied leaders agreed to provide a training and capacity-building effort within Iraq, alongside the ongoing training in Jordan. A NATO Core Team has been deployed to Baghdad and in-country training has been ongoing since January 2017. Key counterparts for NATO in Baghdad are the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior, the Counter-Terrorism Service and the Office of the National Security Advisor.
The focus of NATO’s efforts in Iraq is on areas agreed upon with the Iraqi authorities – tailored to the needs of the Iraqi security forces and institutions – and where NATO can provide added value. NATO’s training and capacity-building activities do not have a fixed duration. NATO Allies keep progress under regular review, in close consultation with the Iraqi authorities.
On the ground, NATO coordinates its efforts with a wide range of international actors – including the United Nations, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL/Daesh, the European Union and individual countries – to ensure complementarity with the activities of other members of the international community in support of Iraq’s long-term stability.
Since February 2018, NATO has been planning a non-combat training and capacity-building mission based on the request of the Iraqi government. The aim is to support Iraq in building and sustaining more effective, transparent and inclusive national security structures and institutions. This is key for the stability of Iraq and the wider region and is designed to help prevent the return of ISIS/Daesh.
The NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) was formally launched at the Brussels Summit in July 2018 and began its activities in the autumn. Building on earlier work with Iraq, the NMI’s work is being expanded into additional schools and institutions. It will include several hundred trainers and advisers from Allies and partner countries (Australia, Finland and Sweden have already been approved by the Iraqi government as operational partners).
22 June 2004: Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ilyad Allawi sends letter to NATO Secretary General requesting NATO support to his government through training and other forms of technical assistance.
28 June 2004: At NATO Summit in Istanbul, NATO heads of