The coalition training effort in Iraq is all about “making a good force better,” said Italian army Brig. Gen. Roberto Vannacci, the deputy commanding general for training for Operation Inherent Resolve’s Joint Forces Land Component Command in Iraq.
Iraqi security forces continue to press the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by rooting out and destroying pockets of ISIS terrorists in the country. From the nadir when ISIS was knocking on the gates of Baghdad, Iraqi forces have taken on the terror group and liberated almost all of the territory the group once held.
The trainers of the coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve gave Iraqi security forces the training they needed to expel the violent extremist group, Vannacci said during a video teleconference from Baghdad to reporters in the Pentagon.
“By all measures, the Iraqi security forces have already proven that they are more than ready and capable of securing the country,” Vannacci said. “On May the 12th, Iraq’s first national election since the rise of ISIS was held peacefully despite repeated warnings from ISIS of their intent to use violence to discourage Iraqis from voting. This is mostly thanks to the training and preparations conducted by Iraqi security forces to ensure that all Iraqis were able to exercise their right to vote free from fear of harm.”
Vannacci said the coalition continues the mission to train and equip Iraqi security forces, to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, and to set the conditions for full-on stabilization efforts.
“To date, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained across multiple locations in Iraq,” the general said.
That training runs the gamut from full-on combat to policing to stabilization, he said.
Demining, Lifesaver Training
In addition to basic combat skills, the coalition trainers have also stressed demining operations and combat lifesaver training. “In Western Baghdad, more than 25,000 police and border guard personnel have been trained in law enforcement and border security procedures,” Vannacci said.
And, more than 18,000 members of Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force received coalition training, the general said.
The coalition also trains and equips the Iraqi air force, Vannacci said. This, he said, includes training Iraqis to fly and maintain their aircraft.
Training the Iraqi forces is a multinational effort, the general said. “Australian forces in Taji and Spanish forces in Bismayah are training ground troops,” Vannacci said. “In the Kurdish region and in western Baghdad, Italian personnel are training army and police forces. Also, German forces are providing training in the Kurdish region while Danish forces are leading the training in Al Asad Air Base.”
The coalition has also provided Iraqi forces with more than $2 billion in equipment, the general said.
“Seventeen Iraqi army brigades have been provided with initial equipment sets, including personal equipment, small arms, ammunition, around 1,000 nontactical vehicles and over 1,100 armored vehicles,” Vannacci said.
Efforts to train police and border guards continue apace with the coalition providing additional equipment to around 20 federal police and border force brigades, including provisioning more than 180 prefabricated, border guard and police presence infrastructure since the beginning of 2018, he said.
The coalition has also provided more than 400 explosive detection and demining kits to assist in the detection and removal of improvised explosive devices, Vannacci said.
Iraqi security forces have shown their worth as part of the coalition by conducting strikes in Syria, where they targeted ISIS activity designed to export violence, the general said.
“The hard-fought victories in Ramadi, Mosul and Tel Afar prove that the Iraqi security forces have always been capable of fighting for the freedom of all Iraqis,” Vannacci said. “The coalition’s goal is simply to make a good force better and to enhance to capability of the Iraqi security forces to ensure Iraq’s lasting peace and security. By all measures, they are well on their way.”
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