North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Assistance to Iraq
While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) does not have a direct role in the international stabilization force that has been in Iraq since May 2003, the alliance is helping Iraq provide for its own security by training Iraqi military personnel, supporting the development of the country's security institutions, and coordinating the delivery of equipment. All NATO member countries are contributing to the training effort either in or outside Iraq through financial contributions or donations of equipment.
Aim of the Operation
NATO is involved in training, equipping, and technical assistance - not combat. The aim is to help Iraq build the capability of its government to address the security needs of the Iraqi people.
At their summit meeting in Istanbul on 28 June 2004, NATO heads of state and government agreed to assist Iraq with training its security forces. A training implementation mission was established on 30 July 2004.
In a letter sent to the NATO Secretary General on 22 June 2004, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi requested NATO support to his government through training and other forms of technical assistance. Alliance presidents and prime ministers responded positively, offering NATO's assistance to the government of Iraq with the training of its security forces. They also encouraged member countries to contribute to the training of the Iraqi armed forces.
The North Atlantic Council, NATO's senior decision-making body, was tasked to develop, on an urgent basis, the modalities to implement this decision with the Iraqi interim government.
Training Implementation Mission
On 30 July 2004, these modalities were agreed on, and a NATO Training Implementation Mission was established in Iraq. Its goal was to identify the best methods for conducting training both inside and outside the country. In addition, the mission immediately began training selected Iraqi headquarters personnel in Iraq. The first elements of the mission deployed on 7 August 2004.
Expanding NATO's assistance
On 22 September 2004, based on the mission's recommendations, the North Atlantic Council agreed to expand NATO's assistance, including establishing a NATO-supported Iraqi training, education, and doctrine center in Iraq. In November 2004, NATO's military authorities prepared a detailed concept of operations for the expanded assistance, including the rules of engagement for force protection. On 9 December 2004, NATO foreign ministers authorized the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) to start the next stage of the mission.
The activation order for this next stage was given by the SACEUR on 16 December 2004. The order paved the way for an expansion of the mission to up to 300 personnel deployed in Iraq, including trainers and support staff and a significant increase in the existing training and mentoring given to mid-and senior-level personnel from the Iraqi Security Forces. The activation order also changed the mission's name from NATO Training Implementation Mission to NATO Training Mission-Iraq. By the time of the NATO summit meeting in February 2005, the new mission was fully staffed and funded.
Who is in charge?
The NATO mission is distinct under the political control of NATO's North Atlantic Council. It is coordinated with the U.S. Forces-Iraq (USF-I).
The commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq is also the commander of the NATO effort. He reports on NATO issues up the NATO chain of command to NATO's SACEUR and, ultimately, the North Atlantic Council.
USF-I provides a secure environment for the protection of NATO forces in Iraq. The NATO chain of command has responsibility for close area force protection for all NATO personnel deployed to Iraq or the region.
National Defense University, set up by NATO, comes under the authority of the Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command, which establishes the framework of training matters for all Iraqi military schools.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012