NATO's Iraqi, ISAF Training Site in Norway Hosts Rumsfeld Visit
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
STAVANGER, Norway, Jun. 8, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today visited NATO's Joint Warfare Center here, where Iraqi troops and international forces in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have trained.
Roughly 50 Iraqi "key leaders" have participated in the JWC's 10-day training program, and NATO has sent three iterations of troops preparing for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan through the center here.
"The kinds of things that NATO, Norway, the United States and other countries are doing in the world today are notably different from earlier periods," Rumsfeld said in a combined news conference with Norwegian Defense Minister Kristin Krohn Devold. "The things they're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan are being done with large numbers of countries that have not worked on those projects before individually, and have certainly never worked on those kinds of projects before together."
The Joint Warfare Center, established here in October 2003, allows international forces to train together before deploying into an operational environment.
In just three days past Rumsfeld's visit, key leaders from the NATO Rapid-Deployment Corps Italy will arrive in Stavanger for 13 days of training in preparation for their ISAF duties in Afghanistan later this summer, explained U.S. Marine Col. Adele Hodges, chief of the JWC's Joint Training Division.
"Training is Joint Warfare Center's most visible mission," Hodges said in an informational briefing for media traveling with Rumsfeld.
"The ability to train a NATO headquarters before you deploy it into an operational area is very important," Krohn Devold said. "NATO didn't have that capability earlier."
Rumsfeld said training here allows international forces "to prepare to go in and do what they need to do in an environment that is not totally passive or benign."
"And we are able to do a considerably better job because of the real-time integration of lessons learned from their predecessors that are brought together in this location to prepare people to go in and do a difficult and important job," he added.
Training here for Iraqi military leaders focuses on interaction between military and civilian agencies, Hodges explained. "One of the things that we discovered in our NATO mission in Iraq is that there's no relationship between the two," she said. "So our job is trying to get them to work together."
Hodges said the Joint Warfare Center was able to begin training Iraqi forces within two months of NATO's approving the mission.
Rumsfeld said such work furthers the coalition mission in Iraq. "(Iraqi forces) are increasingly able to conduct operations," he said. "We have shifted the coalition from basically doing counterinsurgency work and some assistance to the Iraqi security forces, to basically assisting the Iraqi security forces in their training and equipping and development, and in joint operations in the country.
"The progress has been steady, and it's encouraging," Rumsfeld added.