Norwegian soldiers to be deployed to Iraq

The Norwegian Armed Forces will shortly begin deployment of the first part of its military contribution to the international coalition established to counter ISIL. The decision to provide a Norwegian contribution to capability development for the Iraqi Armed Forces was made last October, and the necessary arrangements have now been completed, allowing deployment to begin.

This deployment will consist of 50 instructors deployed to Erbil, along with a second deployment to Bagdad. In addition a small number of support personnel and staff officers that will be deployed to the different headquarters leading the operation. Norway has already had a small number of staff officers in various headquarters in the region supporting the planning of this operation.

The Norwegian force contribution will support the Iraqi Government in developing the capabilities of its security forces. Norwegian instructors will join the German-led training facility being established in Erbil, and also conduct education and training of Iraqi security forces in Bagdad. Both contributions will begin deployment in the near future, gradually building its numbers as the training facilities are completed.

- ISIL represents a very serious threat to security and stability in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, groups and individuals sympathising with ISIL have carried out terrorist attacks in allied countries, as well as several other places in the world.. It is vital that the coalition that has been established is able to contribute towards stopping ISIL’s continued military build up and ideological propaganda, says Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Serious situation

By now the international coalition consists of more than 60 nations and organizations. Norway is member of a core group consisting of almost 20 nations.

- The military support from the coalition to the Iraqi security forces has increased Iraq's ability to counter ISIL´s advance. At the same time, the situation remains very serious, and Iraq will be in need of military support for a long period of time, says Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Norway has now concluded a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraqi Authorities concerning Norwegian personnel serving in Iraq.

-The security situation in Iraq is challenging, and our activities must be adjusted to the security situation we face at any given point. The security of our forces will always be the highest priority, says Eriksen Søreide.

A broad based effort

The coalition assists the Iraqi Government along five lines of efforts, with Norway contributing actively within all five. These include the military fight against ISIL, halting the recruitment of foreign fighters, countering the ideology of ISIL, stopping the financing of ISIL and stabilizing areas which have been liberated from ISIL control.

-The situation in Iraq is complex and before we could begin our deployment there were two issues in particular that we had to clarify. First of all, it was important to ensure that the security situation was manageable. Secondly, it was of great importance to have a satisfactory Status of Forces Agreement in place with Iraqi Authorities. This has been both challenging and time consuming, and similar challenges have also delayed preparations for several of our coalition partners, says the Defence Minister.

Facts on the Norwegian Force Contribution

The Norwegian forces will participate in capability development for the Iraqi security forces in the Erbil-area and in Bagdad, and are not to accompany Iraqi forces in battle. The Norwegian contribution in Erbil will form a part of the German-led capability development contribution located in Northern Iraq. Command will be rotating between Germany and Italy on a six-month basis. The details of the concept are still being developed. The Norwegian force contribution will initially consist of staff officers and personnel that will support the establishment of the training facility in Erbil. As the facility is completed, the remaining personnel will deploy gradually, allowing them to begin the effort of capability development for the Iraqi Security Forces. Once fully deployed, the Norwegian contribution will consist of approximately 50 military instructors in addition to support elements.

The Norwegian force contribution to capability development in Bagdad will be attached to a training facility located within the security area of the international airport in Bagdad. The initial Norwegian force deployment to Baghdad is somewhat more limited than initially planned, as overall coalition requirements in this facility remain uncertain. In addition to their training efforts, Norwegian staff here will therefore contribute towards mapping out any other requirements within the Baghdad training facility that might require Norwegian support.

In addition to staffing the training facilities in Erbil and Bagdad, Norway will commit staff officers to the coalition command structure in Kuwait and Bagdad. These staff and support functions will include the deployment of around 30 personnel.