(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) BRUSSELS, Nov 7 (KUNA) -- One of the main objectives of NATO's training mission in Iraq is to establish a long-term partnership with the Arab country, according to Major General Dany Fortin, outgoing Commander of the NATO Mission Iraq.
Addressing a press conference at NATO headquarters Thursday, he said setting the conditions for long-term partnership between NATO and Iraq is considered to be among the successes of the mission in Iraq launched in October 2018.
"NATO is here to stay not necessarily physically with people day and day out. We want to establish this partnership that will allow Iraq to benefit from what NATO has to offer," said the NATO General.
Commenting on the current turmoil and protests in Iraq, he clarified that "we are not involved in providing advice on the current ongoing domestic issues."
"Our activities continue. We have continued our training in school in Baghdad and that has not effected our activities," he said, but added that "someactivities have been curtailed temporarily so that we do not put the NATO men and women in Iraq in areas or routes that are being used for protests or security forces."
"We want to stay clear of that," he stressed.
Fortin, who hails from Canada, saidthe NATO mission in Iraq is a non-combat training and capacity building mission that works primarily with the Ministry of Defence on security sector reform, institutionalbuilding,strengtheningtheprofessionalmilitary education system and Iraqi military school.
"We are putting a lot of energy on making sure that together we establish mechanisms to make Iraq into a helpful partner in the region. They can participate in NATO exercises, conferences and activities in the region. We are giving them advice on how to do this," he said.
The mission has about 500 hundred military and civilian trainers, advisers and support staff from NATO countries and some non-NATO countries.
However, the NATO commander did not say how long the NATO mission will last and how many Iraqi security forces have been trained till now.
"The operational capability of the armed forces must become the measure for success, not numbers," he said.
Fortin noted that he was in Brussels to provide the NATO leadership with an update on the Iraq mission and that he will transfer the command to his successor at the end of the month. (end)
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