The Commander of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and the U.S. Forces Iraq Deputy Commanding General Lt. General Michael D. Barbero delivered the following speech entitled "the Role of NATO and Turkey in Iraq: 2011 and Thereafter” in the round-table meeting in Turkey organized by the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) Oct. 12-13.
Turkey, NATO, and Iraq: 2011 and Beyond
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and special thanks to Mr. kanBOLat, General KOOLolu, and the staff at ORSAM for inviting me to speak to you today and for organizing this event. As Commander of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about our experience on the ground in Iraq and to talk about the lessons we are learning through our experience and what it means for the future of the NATO-Iraq relationship and some thoughts on Turkey's unique role in developing that relationship.
This is a critical moment for Iraq. The Iraqi Security Forces have assumed primary responsibility for internal security and the security of the country's borders. The ability of Iraq to take over this responsibility is a testament, in part, to the efforts of the NATO training mission, which has played an important role in officer professionalization, federal police training, and NCO development. It is also a critical time for NATO in Iraq, which is looking towards the end of 2011 and beyond to shape the future of the NATO-Iraq partnership and the appropriate role for NTM-I in that relationship.
While the future NATO-Iraq relationship is still being defined, it is clear that it will be based on the close and deepening relationship that began six years ago when NTM-I first opened its doors in Baghdad. The goal of NTM-I, then as now, was to help Iraq develop a democratically led and enduring security sector that addresses the needs of the Iraqi people.
The first training and assistance offered by NATO consisted of direct, one-on-one assistance and mentoring to ISF senior leaders in leadership and command and control under the NATO Training Implementation Mission (NTIM). From the beginning, NTIM kept its focus on specialized training and professionalization, in order to build the capabilities of Iraq's security forces to provide security and protect the population. NTIM transitioned to NTM-I in December of 2004, and the mission expanded in October 2007 to cover a critical training requirement, with the Italian Carabinieri offering specialized training to the Iraqi Federal Police, filling a critical gap in capacity building for internal security.
Since NTM-I's inception, 23 NATO member countries and one partner country have contributed directly to the training effort by providing personnel, financial contributions, or equipment donations. Today, the in-country NTM-I footprint is a relatively small tactical force of 177 personnel representing13 member nations and one PfP partner country at four separate locations in Iraq. To date, this engagement has trained over 12,000 Iraqi security forces, provided more than 115 million euros worth of military equipment, and made important contributions to doctrine development and professional development of officers and NCOs alike.
As these programs continue, NTM-I is working with our Iraqi and NATO partners to find new areas of cooperation. Building on the success of the Carabinieri program, Iraq has asked for assistance with training for its oil police, to help them develop a cadre of professionals to protect critical economic infrastructure. NATO is responding, and this month we will commence a new Carabinieri-led training program to professionalize the Iraqi Oil Police.
In addition, Iraq and U.S. advisors are working together to rejuvenate a training program for Iraq's border guards. This program is significant in that it is being taught in part by Iraqi Federal Police trainers who are recent graduates of the Carabinieri program. Also, one of our NTM-I member countries is keenly interested in serving as lead nation in providing trainers to this border guard training program.
Moreover, NTM-I continues to attract interest from Alliance members who want to contribute to this vital mission. France will send a team to Baghdad in November to explore possible areas for cooperation, and we hope to raise the French flag at NTM-I in the coming months.
Another example of NTM-I's contributions has been the growth in effectiveness of the National Security Operations Centers. These operations centers, which were established with assistance from NTM-I advisors, were fully tested during the March, 2010 elections, and proved capable of maintaining command and control as the voting process went smoothly and was mostly untouched by significant violence. This year, NTM-I and Iraq have determined that these operations centers are mission capable and self-sustaining, and this program is closing down. This successful transition is yet another indication of Iraq's progress and NTM-I's contributions.
These successes are indicative of the continuing improvements to internal security in Iraq, which paved the way for the handing over of responsibility for internal security to Iraqi forces in September, 2010. Iraq's police, army, and specialized units are now capable of providing security and responding to crises, a major step forward for this fledgling democracy.
Of course, no one is satisfied with the security situation yet – not us, not our Iraqi partners. But levels of violence are at their lowest point in seven years, and while there continue to be security incidents, they are not a threat to the viability of the Iraqi state or to ongoing political processes. This is real progress, and sets the conditions for the enduring partnership we are creating between NATO and Iraq.
Throughout our mission in Iraq, Turkey has played a leadership role. Turkey has been an NTM-I contributing nation continuously since 2005, and today is making important contributions to the mission, filling key positions in policy planning and in our training cadre.
In addition to this, Turkey has gone even farther to show its leadership and to open its doors, and NATO's doors, to closer cooperation with Iraq. This year, Turkey sponsored some 300 places for Iraqi security professionals to attend specialized training courses at the NATO PfP Training Center. I had the opportunity to visit the center earlier today, and it really is an impressive facility with a high-quality team running the operation. At the center, Iraqi officers were able to train in a number of counter-terrorism courses, border control training courses, and to develop specialized skills in more technical areas like air traffic control.
Out-of-country courses like these are important not just because of the course content, but also because they provide an unparalleled opportunity to expose Iraqi security professionals to NATO best practices and to allow Iraqi officers to network with NATO counterparts and develop enduring partnerships on a personal and professional level.
Turkey's leadership in this area effectively doubled the number of out-of-country training opportunities NATO was able to offer Iraq through NTM-I in 2010. Turkey has taken the lead again and offered new places for specialized training for Iraqi officers in 2011, and I hope this can become another important component of the NATO-Iraq relationship moving forward.
With the leadership we've seen from Turkey and others in NTM-I, and with the continued support of the Alliance and our PfP partners, I am confident we can continue to achieve great things, and I think the NATO-Iraq relationship has a very bright future. The coming year will be an important one for this mission and for the Alliance in Iraq. Two important decisions will have to be made: first, what the strategic relationship between NATO and Iraq will be under the Structured Cooperation Framework, and second, what the future of the NTM-I mission will be and how it will support the strategic relationship.
Regarding the former, NATO is working now on identifying a slate of activities under the SCF to offer to Iraq, and NATO and Iraq should be able to agree on a program of activities early in 2011. Regarding the latter, NTM-I's mission will continue if Iraq invites NTM-I to remain past 2011. I think this will happen, because Iraq's senior leadership has been outspoken in its support for an enduring partnership.
Of course, in order to have a bright future, we have to get there first. And that is another reason why 2011 is such an important year both for NTM-I and for Iraq. For NTM-I, there remains an important slate of ongoing training programs, and some new opportunities, that must be completed. In order to execute our mission in this critical year, the NATO Trust Fund for Iraq must be resupplied. The price tag for strategic success in Iraq is surprisingly small – less than 5 million euros will fully fund training needs for 2011. We know there are many demands on NATO's attention and on its purse strings – the Summit, ISAF, counter-proliferation issues to name a few – but I hope the member states will not lose sight of the progress achieved to date and the strategic opportunity Iraq presents to the Alliance.
Here again, Turkey leads, and I want to make special mention of the fact that Turkey was the first Alliance member to make a new contribution to the NATO Trust Fund for Iraq. I hope that as soon as the NATO Summit is successfully concluded, other Alliance members will follow Turkey's lead and contribute to the Fund.
For Iraq, of course, a government must be formed, and I am confident Iraq will get this done. Once a new government is in place, I am optimistic for Iraq's long-term future and its continuing relationship with NATO. A politically stable Iraq can be a positive force for regional stability and prosperity. Even now, Iraq is working hard to rebuild its relationships with its neighbors. The Iraqi and Kuwaiti navies are engaging in confidence building measures, for example, and Jordan and Iraq are exploring areas for greater security cooperation.
But perhaps no other neighbor has been as much of a force for positive change in Iraq as Turkey has been. Turkey and Iraq are building partnerships in security, trade and investment. The investments and partnerships that the Turkish private sector has established in Iraq are not to be discounted. Security stabilization, moving forward hand-in-hand with trade and investment growth, can be powerful engines for change and development, and I think we have seen this in areas where Turkish businesses have been active. With hard work and a little luck, I think that example can be expanded throughout Iraq.
In closing, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my firm belief that a professional and capable security force will continue to underpin Iraq's growing stability. NATO, with NTM-I in the lead, is helping Iraq now to shape that future. With the continued support of the Alliance, Iraq with NATO's support can continue to achieve great things.
Thank you very much for your time, ladies and gentlemen. I will pause here, and I am happy to take any questions you might have.