NATO in Iraq to teach military management

By WARD SANDERSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 29, 2004

While NATO has yet to announce its ultimate strategy for training security forces in Iraq, the alliance already has begun a pilot project schooling dozens of Iraqi senior officials in the ancient art of military management.

About 40 alliance personnel — about half of them American — are in the Baghdad area training top-tier military and police leaders on how to lead forces and keep Iraq’s new structures from falling apart.

“That’s what we’re aiming for at the moment, is headquarters-level personnel,” Lt. Col. Petter Lindqvist, a Norwegian officer and spokesman for the mission, said from Baghdad.

“This is like staff-college-level education.”

The team arrived in Iraq two weeks ago both to begin limited training and to look at how best to train forces on a larger scale later. The team will deliver its findings to Gen. James L. Jones, the supreme commander of NATO, who then will relay his final proposals to the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s chief decision-making body, in mid-September.

After that, NATO theoretically could begin training Iraqis of more varied ranks and types.

“It includes all categories,” Lindqvist said. “So at this stage we haven’t limited or narrowed on any one or specific group. That might come later, though.”

The alliance voted to begin training Iraqis during its June summit in Istanbul, Turkey. France and Germany opposed deploying peacekeepers into Iraq, as the United States had asked, but in the end did allow the alliance to train Iraqi forces inside or outside the country. Lindqvist said he believed most of the training would be held inside Iraq.

The current NATO team is made up of troops from Britain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania and the United States. They arrived from NATO bases in Mons, Belgium; Naples, Italy; Stavanger, Norway; and Norfolk, Va.

Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps general, also visited the team in Iraq for two days earlier this month. He met with military leaders and even inspected Iraqi special forces, according to statements and photos released by NATO’s military headquarters in Mons.

Whatever its final form, Lindqvist said the training program will be tailored to whatever the new Iraqi forces need, as opposed to telling Iraqi officers what to do.

“We not here to impose the NATO system on the Iraqis structures,” Lindqvist said. “Quite the contrary.”

U.S. Marine Gen. James Jones, commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, visits with Kurdish troops during a recent tour of Iraq. About 40 NATO members are now in Baghdad to train senior Iraqi officials.

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