Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

“No exit timeline for NATO training mission strengthening Iraq military”

Neil Moss, The Hill Times,
9 December 2019 (link to the complete article)

Long-term NATO mission will lead to greater chances of success stabilizing Iraqi security forces, says foreign policy experts.

The outgoing Canadian commander of the NATO advising and training mission in Iraq says there isn’t a timeline for the mission to end.

“I don’t think there’s urgency on the part of NATO and allies to get us out of there,” Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin told The Hill Times last week. “But there’s no desire to have a long drawn-out operation.”

The mission, which is part of Canada’s contribution to the global fight against ISIS, serves to train Iraqi military leaders who will in turn train Iraqi security forces.

Chris Kilford, a fellow at the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy, said there is a need for a long-term investment in Iraq.

      “It can’t be something that ends in a year or two … it’s a long-term investment,”

said Mr. Kilford, a former defence attaché at Canada’s embassy in Turkey.

Even after Canada relinquishes command of the mission, he said Canada needs to stay and play its part.

Mr. Kilford said if NATO is not there, the region will continue to be in a fragile state.

The Iraqi military “collapsed” in 2014, said Justin Massie, professor of political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal, in the face of the ISIS insurgency.

The NATO mission is helping solidify Iraqi military education institutions in order to ensure ISIS doesn’t return to its former place of power in Iraq. The institutions range from medical schools to bomb disposal training centres.