The numbers of Iraqi Security Forces trained by UK and Coalition personnel has increased threefold since October 2016, with around 3,000 Iraqi forces now being trained every month, 10,000 troops have been trained since the end of October 2016, increasing the Iraqi force’s skills and ability to defeat Daesh.
The sprawling military air base of Al Asad, in the Jazeera desert, is home to a coalition of Danish, Iraqi, US and 250 British troops.
The bulk of the British soldiers are from 4th Battalion, The Rifles (4 RIFLES) supported by 44 sappers from the Royal Engineers, who are there to build and improve on the camp’s basic infrastructure and make life more comfortable for the troops.
The Government announced in June last year its enduring commitment to assisting Iraq and its intention to deploy more troops to train and mentor the Iraqi forces to better prepare them in their fight against Daesh.
Training and mentoring
The role of troops falls into two categories - those providing base security and those providing the training and mentoring under the ‘Building Partnership Capacity’ (BPC) programme.
Underlining the multi-national approach, 4 RIFLES troops providing the BPC support do so under the command of a Danish lieutenant colonel. The group is presently training Iraqi Border Guard personnel who will be used to provide a police service in areas that are cleared of Daesh.
The security force, referred to as SECFOR, operate alongside their coalition partners in manning the sentry posts and mounting foot patrols with incursions deeper into the outlying perimeter of the base in armoured vehicles.
To date British forces have trained about 31,000 Iraqi personnel including 7000 Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in infantry fighting tactics, weapons maintenance, counter-IED (improvised explosive device) medical and engineering skills not only at Al Asad, but also Besmaya, Erbil and Tajil.