NATO chief plans military academies for Iraqi forces

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The secretary general of NATO said the alliance plans to step up training of Iraq’s armed forces, including by setting up military academies.

Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that the goal of training is to ensure that Daesh “is never able to come back in the way we have seen before.”

NATO is part of a global alliance that drove Daesh from large areas in Syria and Iraq.

After declaring victory over Daesh in December, Iraqi officials said they will focus on training the armed forces with the help of NATO and Western nations.

Despite of billions of dollars spent on training Iraqi forces after the 2003 US-led invasion, the military suffered a humiliating defeat when Daesh militants swept through nearly one-third of Iraq in mid-2014.

Stoltenberg said on Monday: “We are here because Iraq wants us to be here, we are not here without the consent and without an invitation from Iraq.

“We should not stay longer than necessary, we will train the trainers as long as necessary to make sure Daesh does not re-emerge.”

His comments come days after the Iraqi Parliament called for the government to draw up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

“The Iraqi Parliament expresses its gratitude to all countries which have supported Iraq in its fight against Daesh and calls for the government to draw up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops,” it said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared in December the end of the war to expel Daesh militants from the country, three years after they seized a third of Iraq, sweeping aside security forces.
Stoltenberg said NATO received a “written request” from Abadi to keep its troops in the country.

He said troops from 19 member countries have stepped up training Iraqi forces in several fields.

NATO “is scaling up its training, like countering IEDs (improvised explosive devices), military medicine, maintenance of equipment and in some other areas,” he said.

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