NATO only has seven full-time personnel stationed in Iraq assisting Operation Inherent Resolve in the fight against the Islamic State, Canadian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. D.J. Anderson revealed to reporters Thursday.
Anderson characterized the contingent as “small and modest with a focus on a few key areas,” clarifying that NATO personnel consisted of three civilians and four military personnel. The NATO team is focused on “counter-IED training, civil military cooperation training, civil preparedness and some very very specific medical training and evacuation” for the Iraqi Security Force, Anderson explained.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged the NATO alliance to increase its role in the fight against ISIS, at one point calling the bloc “obsolete” for its lack of focus on the security challenge. Trump’s insistence prompted the alliance to join the ISIS fight by beginning its modest training efforts for the Iraqi Security Forces in February.
The alliance’s modest commitment prompted Trump to soften his tone on NATO in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg. “The Secretary General and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete; it’s no longer obsolete,” Trump said.
Trump continued to harangue NATO countries to meet their defense spending agreements and increase their commitments to the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. NATO placated Trump’s concerns by formally joining the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition in May. Anderson pointed out that the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition is different from Operation Inherent Resolve and said that NATO’s modest training effort is “designed to be small to start with in accordance with the mandate NATO has provided for this mission.”
Anderson also noted that alliance has conducted three counter-improvised explosive device courses for which “10-15 personnel” were flown in. “This is kind of an expeditionary training model if you will,” he declared.
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