NATO announces 8-fold increase in personnel for Iraqi training mission

BRUSSELS / BAGHDAD — On Thursday, during a press conference at the end of the second day of a meeting of NATO defense ministers, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the Alliance had decided to significantly increase the size of NATO’s training mission to Iraq from 500 to 4,000 personnel.

“Today, we discussed the decision to expand NATO’s training missions in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces and make sure that the Islamic State will not return,” Stoltenberg added, indicating that NATO’s training programs will include more Iraqi security institutions and regions outside Baghdad. He also pointed out that the personnel increase will be gradual, expressing NATO’s commitment to the sovereignty of Iraq and its territorial unity.

Member of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee Kata’a al-Rikabi indicated that the NATO forces are not combating forces, but supporting forces, noting that their mission is training and logistical support for Iraqi forces.

Al-Rikabi also stressed that the executive authority determines the need for any NATO support, as well as any increase or decrease in NATO forces stationed in Iraq.