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350 Iraqi officers to be trained in Jordan by November — NATO

Alliance sees Jordan as 'strategically vital country in the region'

By Mohammad Ghazal - Sep 26,2016 - Last updated at Sep 26,2016

Ambassador Alexander Vershbow (centre), deputy secretary general of NATO, speaks to reporters in Brussels recently (Photo by Mohammad Ghazal)

BRUSSELS — Some 350 Iraqi officers will have received defence training in Jordan under a specialised programme by the end of November, a NATO official has said. 

"The training provided to the Iraqi forces in Jordan is helping in defeating [Daesh] and helping displaced Iraqis return home," Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary general of NATO, said at a recent meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The first group of Iraqi officers started their training under the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) initiative on April 2 at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre (KASOTC) in Jordan.

The training includes assistance in the areas of countering improvised explosive devices; explosive ordnance disposal and demining; military medicine and medical assistance; advice on security sector reform; civil-military planning support to operations; civil emergency planning and civil preparedness; cyber defence; and military training. 

Vershbow said NATO would start training Iraqi army personnel inside Iraq in early 2017.

Asked whether Iraqis would continue to be trained in Jordan, he told The Jordan Times: "We are keeping our options open for now and there is a possibility that some parts of the training will still be conducted in Jordan."

The NATO official added: "Jordan is one of [NATO's] long-standing partners, and we have strategic cooperation with [the Kingdom]. Jordan is one of five enhanced opportunity partners and we will continue to work with it.”

NATO will also continue to build the Kingdom's defence capacities in various areas, he said, noting that Jordan is “a strategically vital country in the region”.

A top Iraqi officer with Iraq mission to NATO said Baghdad is interested in replicating the experience of KASOTC in Jordan.

"This centre enjoys a prestigious international reputation and the training that the Iraqi officers are getting there is greatly helping in building the capacity of the Iraqi army," said the officer, who preferred not to be named.

"The training our officers are getting in Jordan is helping a lot in the fight against [Daesh]. They will soon be defeated and our fight will then be the ideological side of the battle," he told The Jordan Times.

Vershbow noted that the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi requested NATO assistance via the DCB initiative. 

During the meeting, Vershbow said NATO will start deploying airborne warning and control system aircraft (AWACS) next month to support the surveillance mission of the US-led international coalition against Daesh.

"This will help the coalition's aircraft. Though we are not directly involved with the US-led coalition, we are supporting the coalition through AWACS and training of the Iraqi army, and there will be more support from Jordan," he said.

 

Vershbow ruled out the possibility that the aircraft will fly from Jordanian territories; explaining that they would depart from Turkish territories and use international airspace. 

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