Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg began an official visit to Iraq on Monday (5 March 2018), paying a visit to NATO’s training facilities in Besmaya. For over a year, NATO has conducted training and capacity building activities for hundreds of Iraqi security forces, helping them to develop their own capabilities in the fight against terrorism.
In Besmaya, the Secretary General met with Spanish, Canadian and Slovakian trainers, as well as Iraqi forces who have benefited from NATO’s training activities. Accompanied by the Base Commander, Spanish Brigadier General Luis Cepeda Lucas, Mr. Stoltenberg observed training in counter-improvised explosive devices, explosive ordnance disposal and de-mining. He praised the professionalism of the troops, noting that this training helps to save lives.
In Baghdad, the Secretary General met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the security situation and strengthening cooperation between NATO and Iraq. He paid tribute to the bravery of the Iraqi forces, saying: “Supported by the Global Coalition, they have broken the grip of Daesh terrorists on this country.” He stressed that it is important to secure these gains.
At the request of the Iraqi government, NATO is planning to scale up its support with a new training mission in Iraq. “We will continue to train the trainers, and help the Iraqi Government to establish specialist military academies and schools,” he said.
During his visit, the Secretary General also met with Commanding General, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, and senior Global Coalition commanders, as well as representatives from the United Nations, European Union, and Allied nations.