Close to 100 soldiers and civilians who will join the NATO Mission Iraq within upcoming weeks and months have finalised their preparations for the deployment. Between 22 January and 2 February, the NATO Joint Force Training Centre executed the first 2024 pre-deployment training.

NATO Mission Iraq is a non-combat advisory and capacity-building mission that assists Iraq in building more sustainable, transparent, inclusive and effective armed forces and security institutions, so that Iraqis themselves are better able to stabilise their country, fight terrorism and prevent the return of ISIS/Daesh. The mission was launched at the NATO Summit in Brussels in July 2018, following a request from the government of Iraq, and established in October 2018.

The first iterations of training addressing requirements of the new mission were held in 2019. Since then, the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) Pre-Deployment Training has become an integral part of the Joint Force Training Centre’s programme of work. For the last couple of years, the Centre has conducted three iterations of the event a year, with the first one opening the training year every January. The beginning of 2024 was no different.

The main goal of every NMI pre-deployment training is to provide the mission Commander with cohesive, uniformly trained personnel, able to function effectively from day one of the mission. To achieve that, the event consists of two phases, executed over two weeks. The virtual phase of the first 2024 pre-deployment training took place between 22 and 26 January. It was conducted on-line, and participants gained the necessary knowledge on the specifics of the mission and situation in Iraq. The training audience engaged with key leaders from theatre through live chats. The second, residential phase, held at the Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, between 29 January and 2 February, built upon the knowledge of the mission, allowed participants to put the acquired knowledge into practice and created environment for team building.

“I am sure that with the preparation you received during the training, you will add significantly to the NATO Mission Iraq”, said Major General Norbert Wagner, Joint Force Training Centre Commander, addressing the participants of the event during the closing ceremony on 2 February. He also thanked all Subject Matter Experts, to include current members of the mission who personally supported the event in Bydgoszcz; experts from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the Joint Force Command Naples, NATO Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence, NATO Communications and Information Agency and the U.S. Navy Reserve, who provided their expertise; and role players and interpreters, whose work added realism to the practical advisory exercises.

For the vast majority of participants, the training at the Joint Force Training Centre was the first opportunity to meet their future comrades and leaders. Lieutenant General Lucas Schreurs, the designated Commander of the mission, Brigadier General Barbra Buls, the current NATO Mission Iraq Deputy Commander, Brigadier General Andreas Kühne, the designated Director of Training Development Division and Mr Charles Davies, the designated Director of Ministerial Advisory Division took part in the event and met with the future NATO Mission Iraq staff members. Teambuilding was an important aspect of the training. Participants were involved in a number of activities in Bydgoszcz, which helped them build foundations for future cooperation in the theatre and a smoother start once in Iraq.