BESMAYA, Iraq - Canadian Army Lieutenant-General Christian Juneau, Deputy Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, received an update on the progress being made by NATO’s Mobile Training Teams working with the Iraqi Army, October 2-4, 2017.
Formally established in January this year, NATO’s Training and Capacity Building in Iraq (NTCB-I) programme has been developing and delivering training packages for Iraqi Army trainers in key capabilities such as Soviet-era fighting vehicle maintenance, civilian-military planning and bomb disposal.
At the invitation of the Iraqi Government and working very closely with the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), teams from Italy, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands have deployed to Iraqi training schools and institutions in order to further develop the Iraqi Army’s training organization. More Mobile Training Teams (MTT) are in the pipeline as NATO’s ‘modest but scalable’ programmes continue to grow.
Lt Gen Juneau called on NATO’s forward-deployed NTCB-I Core Team to see for himself just how Italian Brigadier General Pierfranco Tria and his small team of officers coordinate and facilitate the work of the MTTs. He then met with senior CJTF leaders to learn at first hand of the progress being made across the Coalition, to discuss possible opportunities for future NATO MTTs and to thank the Coalition for their unfailing support without which the MTTs could not operate. As NATO and Coalition activities continue to move forward together, the NATO flag was raised for the first time at Besmaya during a short but dignified ceremony in the presence of Lt Gen Juneau.
Keen to see for himself NATO trainers in action, Lt Gen Juneau dropped into see the Commander of the Iraqi Bomb Disposal School who was full of praise for the Italian MTT currently honing the skills of Iraqi Bomb Disposal instructors. A short ride, courtesy of the Coalition’s Spanish Contingent, to a nearby training ground enabled Lt Gen Juneau to meet with Colonel Fabrizio Ricci and his Italian team as well as to chat with enthusiastic Iraqi trainees. No visit to a Bomb Disposal School would be complete without an explosion or two and the Iraqis proved no exception with their day’s training culminating with the successful – and certainly loud - disposal of several items of unexploded ordnance, using a variety of techniques.
Lt Gen Juneau said "This visit has enabled me to assess the impact that NATO’s Training Teams are having on the Iraqi Army, as it looks forward to the future with increasing confidence, and I have been hugely impressed.” He added "I also took the opportunity to discuss with key Coalition and Iraqi leaders possible opportunities for further engagement”.