BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Iraq plans to ask NATO for help training its security forces, the alliance said on Wednesday, months after the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of an offensive by Islamic State militants.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi informed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg of Baghdad’s plan at a meeting in Brussels, said Oana Lungescu, spokeswoman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
NATO ambassadors will review the request once it is received, she said.
Iraq is seeking NATO’s help with “defense capacity building”, which can range from advisers in security ministries, anti-corruption advice, to full military training.
NATO previously had a team training Iraqi security forces but it was withdrawn from Iraq at the end of 2011 when no agreement could be reached on the legal status of NATO troops operating in the country.
If NATO agreed to resume training Iraqi security forces, it is unclear whether the training would take place in Iraq or outside. If inside Iraq, a new legal agreement would be needed.
“Anything that NATO might do in support of Iraq’s defense capacity building would need to be complementary to the considerable efforts already undertaken by the U.S.-led coalition and individual NATO allies,” a NATO official said, speaking after a U.S.-chaired conference of the coalition fighting Islamic State was held in Brussels.
NATO has said for months it was ready to consider training Iraqi security forces if Baghdad made a request.
Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Tom Heneghan