The first of three NATO leadership courses for Iraqi naval and marine officers took place at sea during the last week of January 2008.
Eight second lieutenants in the Navy and Marine Corps, experienced five days of lectures, discussions and practical sessions during which leadership principles and practices were examined. The training was conducted at-sea in the new UK Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship, RFA Cardigan Bay, an ideal host platform for this important mission. The training was delivered by a combined team from the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) and the Naval Transition Team based at Umm Qasr Naval Base.
The course focused on the theory and principles of leadership, relating traditional western thoughts with the Islamic leadership principles. Practical skills for team leading and mission preparation were also examined, and basic skills were exercised by all students. There was plenty to discuss regarding law of armed conflict and ethics in leadership with lively engagement as scenarios were examined. The officers were also required to conduct a brief on a historical leader and explain lessons that would be pertinent to them today.
Course Director, Commander John Gray, UK Royal Navy used the syllabus previously employed for naval non-commissioned officer (NCO) training with modules from the UK Royal Naval Leadership Academy to focus it on officer development. He was supported throughout by Lieutenant Colonel David Coggins, U.S. Marine Corps, who had previously directed NATO’s NCO programme for the Iraqi navy.
The trainers stated they were gratified to see NCOs who had been previously trained by NATO employing their leadership skills as instructors working with the latest group of naval recruits at Umm Qasr Naval Base.
The third instructor, Captain Cameron Albin U.S. Marine Corps, was loaned from the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq Naval Transition Team in support of NATO. He was able to bring his recent experience leading troops in combat, providing a clear focus on why the training was being conducted. The course was a significant success with all students fully involved and keen to express the benefit gained in discussing and exercising leadership principles and skills.
This naval leadership initiative is one of the training programs currently being conducted by NTM-I. Further details on NTM-I can be found at www.jfcnaples.nato.int/ntm-i.
RFA Cardigan Bay is currently assigned to operations in support of security transition in the northern Arabian Gulf and regularly provides a platform for Iraqi navy training. The ample facilities and accommodation for an embarked military force makes it ideal for purpose and both captain and ship’s company made every effort to ensure the NATO training course ran smoothly. More information on the ship can be found at http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.5979.