Updated: 11-Nov-2004 NATO Speeches


10 Nov. 2004

Press briefing

on the NATO Training and Equipment Co-ordination Group (NTEGG) by Colonel David Spasojevich, United States Marine Corps

Audio file (.MP3/7601Kb)

COLONEL DAVID SPASOJEVICH (United States Marine Corps): Good afternoon. I hope the weather was not too bad in getting here. I am the commander of the NTECG. That's the NATO Training and Equipment Coordination Group. We were formed on the 8th of October. And I don't think I can promise you any headlines today, but if hard work constitutes a headline then we've done plenty since we first came together.

Our job is to help coordinate the training and equipment piece for Iraq. And the training piece mainly has to do with out-of-country training.

We have a staff of ten personnel that represent all the areas of NATO. And their role is to harmonize the offers of countries to requirements from Iraq.

Our set-up, so to speak, is based in three locations with a Headquarters cell here at NATO Headquarters. We have an equipment cell down in ACO, which is SHAPE down in Mons. And then we have an ACT cell, which deals with training in Norfolk, Virginia.

We are the honest brokers, so to speak, of training and equipment. And I now look forward to asking... or basically answering any questions that you might have.

Q: When you talked about you had now ten personnel, is this the whole (inaudible)...

UNIDENTIFIED: Sorry, your microphone (inaudible)... Microphone.

Q: I'm sorry. Okay. When you talked about ten personnel, is this for the three units? And is it part of the 66 in total for the training mission, or it's apart?

Well, your first question, ten personnel. We've always envisioned the NTECG to be an organization that would grow and change the priority or the importance of its location based on how the mission matures. So ten was a good number to start in developing and sort of building the nest, or building the organization.

As it becomes more mature the size of the NTECG will grow. Also its reach as far as the coordination feature will also become larger. As far as is the ten bodies associated with the NTECG part of the 66? No. It's separate from the 66.

Q: But ten are the total for this unit(?). One for headquarters in NATO equipment cell in Mons, the ACT, Norfolk, Virginia (inaudible)...

SPASOJEVICH: Answering that question, which was, are the ten the total numbers in all three locations? The purpose of the NTECG is to coordinate. So we are going to coordinate with other portions and experts in those three locations. There are bodies that are already set up there that are going to facilitate our ability to perform our mission.

So in a sense yes it'll be much larger than the ten, but only because we'll be tapping into already-existing functions at the three locations. And that's why those particular disciplines are located where they are, so that we can get at expertise needed to accomplish the mission.

Q: (inaudible)... News Agency. So far your plan is ready, more or less, so that could you specify in details maybe, in some details, what are you going to train Iraqi personnel for? This is simple as a question, and more complicated, what equipment you are training them to deal with and where this equipment are going to come from?

SPASOJEVICH: Okay, the training piece first. So far you already know about the training that we've accomplished and coordinated through the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger. And that dealt with the coordination of military and civilian organizations working together as nation-building and working with NGOs and so forth. I see a lot of the training continuing in that vein, helping them to organize.

The equipment that will be provided I imagine will come from all NATO nations in various degrees. Basically those requirements are going to come from Iraq, from an organization called the TECC through the TESC, and the TECC is the Training and Equipment Coordination Committee. It's MOD, Iraqi MOD chaired organization and out of that the TESC, which is the Training and Equipment Synchronization Cell, will report to the NTECG for coordination purposes only. And then what we'll do is we'll hold the requirements in our group, and then as the offers come from the other nations we'll match the offers to the requirements and then help facilitate the movement of those items or the organization of the training, so that it can be accomplished.

Q: Inge (inaudible), Atlantic News. I'd like to know first of all if we're talking about selling or giving equipment, and you said you've done a lots of hard work already. I'd like to know if you've already coordinated some providing or selling or giving of equipments?

SPASOJEVICH: Our role is to coordinate requirements to offers, and I think offers refers to donations.

Q: (inaudible)...


Q: (inaudible)...positive?

SPASOJEVICH: No. That's positive. Offers... offers to requirements. And we're going to help facilitate the meeting of those two. Now how those are defined may change over time, but right now we're looking strictly for donations.

Q: And have you gone already? I mean, has this gone through?

SPASOJEVICH: In the initial stages, and I'm not going to give you those details because they are in the initial stages, and we'll be able to provide that information as it is more firmly constructed.
Go to the other side of the table.

Q: Léon Bruneau, Agence France-Presse. Can you confirm that most of the equipment, if not all of it, will be for training purposes in Iraq? In other words, you know, you're not selling weapons to be used or given(?), donated.

SPASOJEVICH: The equipment that will be provided is equipment that will assist the Iraqis in maintaining peace in their country.

Q: (inaudible)...


SPASOJEVICH: It could be a combination of both.

Q: Of both.

SPASOJEVICH: It could be a combination of both. It could range from pencils to computers and so forth.

Q: But not weapons?

SPASOJEVICH: It could be weapons as well.

Q: Just a clarification. Nick Fiorenza, Armed Forces Journal. Just a clarification on those ten personnel. I suppose they're... I don't know if they're all officers, but are they currently all here at NATO? And are you located here at NATO?

SPASOJEVICH: Correct. The NTECG cell for the initial stages, are all located here at the Headquarters. As we put all the processes in place... as we put all the processes in place some of those personnel will migrate to those other two locations that I mentioned in order to optimize the efficiency of the organization.

Q: (inaudible)...from the Associated Press. Just to be clear, as of now there has been no transfer of equipment from one of the NATO nations to Iraq through your office?

SPASOJEVICH: That's correct. And we've only been in existence for one month.

Q: Sure, sure.

SPASOJEVICH: And I'm sure you can understand that.

Q: Sure. I just... the other thing is, when we met with General Jones, I think it was about ten days ago, he was giving us some idea of the sort of priorities of equipment that the Iraqis wanted, and he mentioned, I think, automatic weapons, (inaudible), machine guns, trucks, this sort of thing. Is that the sort of thing that we're looking at? You seem to be highlighting more non-lethal type equipment when you were speaking earlier. I'm trying to get something like the balance between the two.

SPASOJEVICH: I wish I could give you a balance between the two. And I'm not familiar with what General Jones said. But we're fielding all types of equipment, and we anticipate donations that run the full spectrum of the items that he mentioned.

Q: Pieter Müller(?) from European Security Defence. This training, is it only training on equipment, or is it also training in democratic thinking, or is it border security policy training? Next question: Where are the locations where they are trained. In Stavanger, I know, but I think also in Oberammergau and in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. And there are some more locations. I would like to know. And the language, how is the language problem solved? Are they speaking all English or French or German or Iraqi or...?

SPASOJEVICH: Well, I'll answer the last question first. Is that when we mentioned the hard work earlier, that's part of it. In other words, we're trying to ensure that the Iraqis who are trained can become trainers. So the materials are being made in Arabic, so that they can take those lessons back to their country and train and build their own capability.

Q: And the language? Your training.

SPASOJEVICH: They have interpreters with them to help them in understanding, and I imagine they'll be instructed in the tongue that they're most comfortable with. And part of the experience is also for them to learn a little bit about the culture. So I'm sure that some of the courses and some of the instruction will also be in the language of the country.

Q: And the training facilities I have asked?

SPASOJEVICH: They... you already know that they were trained in Stavanger. There are other locations that they will be trained at, and for reasons, those will be divulged at a later time.

Q: You do not know the facilities, like Oberammergau or at this Marshall Centre.

SPASOJEVICH: There are... all the facilities are being offered. Training will probably occur at a great number of them, in a number of countries. And as soon as I'm at liberty to present the location of the training I will.

Q: I'll follow up maybe on that one. There was a report in this morning's press of the Slovak's doing demining training. Was that coordinated by you? Or choosing that location?

SPASOJEVICH: I am not at liberty to discuss things that aren't fully coordinated. As soon as the training is fully coordinated and I'm allowed to pass the location and so forth, we will.

Q: One of the things that we were told at SHAPE last week was that at least in terms of the weaponry and some of the hardware, that the idea was to be... as much as possible to use former Warsaw Pact equipment, which the Iraqis have been familiar with in the past. Is that correct?

SPASOJEVICH: I will tell you that initially that may be the smart way of doing it. It's going to be up to the Iraqis. Obviously they already have experience in a particular type of equipment. They already have infrastructure. They already understand how to maintain it. And they probably have some portion of the parts and so forth to maintain it. So that makes sense.

Q: Sir, a follow-up to a question earlier. I mean, it's all very well for NATO to hand out pencils to the Iraqis, but...

SPASOJEVICH: That was just the scope of things. I mean, I'm just saying...

Q: Yeah well, you said it, I didn't.


SPASOJEVICH: You know, we've already looked... we've looked at computers and the pencils was an example that we use to help explain how the process will work.

Q: In any case, could you clarify that the equipment, obviously speaking more of weapons in this case, that will be provided to the Iraqis, will those weapons be used for training purposes in Iraq, or for combat purposes? In other words, you're going to hand out eventually a machine gun or whatever, will that be used in the training programs, or will that be used for combat operations?

SPASOJEVICH: I will tell you that I'm responsible for training. And that's what the NTECG does. So training and equipping. How the weapons will be used... they're being... I'll give you an example. The training and the equipment should be linked. In other words, if we all know that there is an EOD requirement in-country, and we're trying to find training sources that will also be matched with equipment, that's so that the training they receive they'll be able to apply in-country with the equipment that they train on.

Q: Excuse me, how did you choose the countries and companies from where you deploy the equipment to Iraqi? There are probably private companies, from which countries and on which base? It was the kind of tender or just, for instance, Caterpillar, American company has problems...

SPASOJEVICH: That's a great question. I'm glad you asked that, because it's going to help clear up a lot of things.
First of all, we don't do any choosing, okay? We're an open organization. That's why I brought up the line about being honest brokers. We're a repository for offers and requirements. We're looking primarily for donations. And the requirements will come from Iraq. Okay? The equipment donations will be validated through NATO.
So all our organization does is coordinate the offers with the equipment. So we're not soliciting for offers. We're just processing them.
And if we get an offer that offer will be routed through the appropriate military representation of that country from which the offer comes from, to ensure that it's proper.

Q: If you're speaking about using equipment of former Warsaw Pact are you going or maybe intent to attract to the training mission some nations who are taking part in coalition, but are not NATO countries, like Ukraine, for example. Thank you.

SPASOJEVICH: Okay, could you repeat your question one more time, please?

Q: Yup, sure. So so far we are speaking about using the equipment former Warsaw Pact, so that the question is, are you going to involve some non-NATO countries who are members of coalition, like Ukraine, for example, to the training? That is the question?

UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)...

SPASOJEVICH: Well, okay... I think I understand the question. Those procedures have yet to be developed in full. In other words, right now we're concentrating on the NATO nations, but I'm sure that all countries that are willing to help will be allowed to participate.

Q: And in your opinion, from which date you'll be able to begin really the work and not only counting on donations.

SPASOJEVICH: I don't understand your question.

Q: You said that you are for the time being that you are looking for donations, in the initial stages. When you will begin the second stages of your work?

SPASOJEVICH: Well, I really don't see second stages. I see us as performing a role of matching equipment to offers.

Q: I'm using your words.

SPASOJEVICH: That's correct. And I'm sorry if I misled you, but the initial stages will be donations, and offers can take many forms. We are going to match offers to requirements. And that's how we see ourselves operating.

Q: Just to make it clear, I mean, if you don't get offers then you're going to try to look for selling, is that it?

SPASOJEVICH: No. No that's not it at all. I believe... we are getting offers, but they're not finalized yet. And based on information I've got, we can stay within the... what I described to you.

UNIDENTIFIED: It's the last question.

SPASOJEVICH: Last question.

Q: Sir, Spain is one of the countries who wants... which wants to make this training outside Iraq. I understood that the Spanish authorities has offered one place near Madrid for training in aspect like the demenage(sic), I think you say in English. Could you confirm that there will be... that there is this offer and it will be possible to make a training in Spain with Iraqi troops.

SPASOJEVICH: As I mentioned earlier the only thing that I can pass you is information that's confirmed. And once the training arrangements have been confirmed then we can pass that.

So I'm not going to speak to that particular. But we're looking at everything. Again, we're just in the receiving mode for both offers and requirements. And we...

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