Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday privately requested for additional help from the United States to train Iraqi police forces used to secure cities that have been retaken from ISIS. The request comes as the anti-IS partners are preparing to boost their support in the battle against the jihadists launched in August 2014. After recovering Ramadi in late December, local police trained by Italian Carabinieri were deployed to provide security. Their efficiency allowed elite Iraqi Special Forces soldiers to leave the city earlier than expected to begin another mission. The coalition’s strategy is aimed at destroying IS by focusing on their power centers in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and Raqa in Syria.
Senior U.S. defense officials will meet in Brussels on February 11 with defense ministers from 26 nations that are part of the U.S.-led coalition, as well as Iraqi representatives, to see what additional contributions countries can deliver. Secretary Carter and Mr. Abadi discussed the additional training in a closed-door meeting on Friday at the World Economic Forum. Carter agrees with the importance of expanding police training and that he would work with the international coalition to defeat ISIS to accelerate it.
Carter has asked coalition members to beef up their contributions to the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. And one of the several key priorities is trainers. The issue is particularly critical as security forces retake towns in the largely Sunni areas that are held by IS. Leaders want to put Sunni local police into the town in order to keep the peace and prevent IS from returning.
Currently the Italian national police are conducting month long training sessions for the local police. They mainly receive instruction in basic soldier skills, including marksmanship, patrolling and how to locate and counter hidden explosive devices. Officials said that the victory in Ramadi has given Abadi more latitude to seek additional military aid, despite persistent political sensitivities to increasing the coalition’s presence in Iraq.
Coalition airstrikes aided Iraqi security forces in retaking Ramadi last month. Iraq’s trained local police then moved in to secure the town. The U.S. officials say the local police were able to take over more quickly than initially anticipated, allowing more skilled Iraqi security and counterterrorism forces to move on to other operations. American officials have expressed frustration at the limited participation of many of its allies in the Middle East in the anti-Isis coalition. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were active in the early months of the fight against Isis but have since shifted most of their military capabilities to Yemen.