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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has long been one of the world’s most successful multinational organizations. In addition to defending Europe during the Cold War, NATO also subsequently halted two genocides in the Balkans. Though NATO’s current contributions in Afghanistan tend to garner more attention, NATO is also playing a key role in Iraq through NATO Training Mission–Iraq.

Currently led by Italian Maj. Gen. Giuseppe Spinelli, NTM–I has been involved since 2004 in helping Iraq develop security forces that are professional, operate in accordance with the rule of law and that respect human rights. The mission consists of 270 personnel from 13 NATO countries and is a noncombat operation. NTM–I’s mission is to advise in Iraq’s various military and police academies.

Though Iraq’s military and police forces are performing increasingly well, it can be seen from history and recent experience in places like the Balkans that the development of mature and professional security institutions takes time. The government of Iraq has therefore asked NATO to continue the NTM–I mission through a formal document known as the Iraq-NATO Long Term Agreement. Recently ratified by the NATO Council and the government of Iraq, the Long Term Agreement provides for the continuation of the NTM–I mission. The agreement is neither a precursor to NATO membership nor does it commit NATO to security responsibilities.

Stability in Iraq is in the best interests of the international community. It is also morally right that we help the people of Iraq in this small but meaningful way. NTM–I will continue to work at the direction of the NATO Council and in partnership with Iraq to enhance the stability of Iraq and the safety of Iraq’s citizens.

U.S. Lt. Gen. Frank G. HelmickCommander, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraqand NATO Training Mission–IraqBaghdad

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