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NATO Establishing Iraqi Training Center Outside Baghdad

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 10, 2005 – NATO is establishing a military training center for Iraqi officers on the outskirts of Baghdad, officials here said this week.

The training, education and doctrine center should be "up and running" at Rustimiyah by the end of September, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced here June 9. He added that NATO defense ministers meeting here this week look forward to the center's opening.

It has been less than a year since the Iraqi government requested NATO assistance in training the country's military forces. Since then NATO has set up several venues for training Iraqis.

To date, 50 have completed 10 days of training at the Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited that center June 8.

Also, more than 120 NATO officers are training members of the Iraqi ministries of Defense and Interior at the Iraqi joint staff headquarters in Baghdad. And Iraqi troops are training at the NATO school in Oberammergau, Germany, and at the NATO Defense College in Rome.

Currently, all 26 NATO nations are contributing to the Iraqi training mission with personnel, equipment or funds, a senior U.S. defense official said June 8.

"By the end of this year, more than 400 Iraqi officers will have been trained at NATO schools in the last two years," the defense official said.

The training center at Rustimiyah is totally a combined venture. Iraq is paying for the furniture and for housing their students and Iraqi instructors; Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq will pay to refurbish the classrooms and for half of the contracted force protection; and NATO will pay for the other half of the contracted force protection and for housing NATO staff members.

"The goal is to have a throughput of 1,000 trained officers each year," a senior NATO diplomat said June 8.

"NATO is making increasingly important contributions in helping to train and equip the Iraqi security forces," Rumsfeld said in a press conference here June 9. "And those forces are improving steadily in skill, confidence and success."

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Biographies:
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

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