Canadian Armed Forces Major-General Dany Fortin will lead the new NATO training and capacity-building mission in Iraq, Canada’s defense ministry announced.
Fortin, currently Commander of the 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in Ontario, will assume command of the NATO Mission-Iraq this autumn, National Defence said on Wednesday, August 22.
With over 30 years of military experience, Fortin previously commanded the 5th regiment and 5th Canadian mechanized brigade group.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously announced that Canada would lead the NMI for the first year and contribute up to 250 personnel and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
Canadian troops are already deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Impact, the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve. The CAF are providing training and assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces, and mobile training teams are helping the NATO counter-improved explosive device capacity building effort for Iraqi forces.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg signaled the new Iraq training mission in February, saying that the alliance’s defense ministers saw the need for more training of Iraqi forces as operations in the country move from the fight against Islamic State to building local capacity.
Trudeau’s government has sought to expand Canada’s global activity, including by deploying peacekeepers and Griffons to the Minusma, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. A defense policy released last year will increase Canada’s defense budget more than 70 percent by 2026.
The new NATO training mission will include 580 total personnel to train Iraqi military instructors who will in turn teach Iraq’s security forces at military academies.
NATO trained more than 15,000 Iraqi police officers during its prior training mission from 2004-2011. The bloc agreed in July 2015 to provide additional capacity measures, including explosives and demining training and civil military planning, and agreed in 2016 to train and advise Iraqi security forces. In-country activities began in January 2017 following a course for Iraqi officers in Jordan.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has asked that future training for Iraqi forces take place in Iraq.