He is at the head of a mission in a country that is still too poor and with a fragile democracy, where terrorists of Islamic extremism and drug traffickers recruit young people trying to survive. “Although all of Iraq is full of opportunities, it just needs to be helped and supported, because it could be one of the biggest energy hubs for Italy and Europe”, explains the general Giovanni Maria Iannucci, commander of the ‘Nato Mission Iraq’, the mission in charge of assisting Iraqi institutions and to which 29 nations contribute. At the Italian level, the activities carried out in the operational theater are conducted according to the directives issued by the Joint Operational Command, led by General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo.
“Ours is an experiment – he clarifies – we do neither classic training nor supply equipment, but we provide ‘advising’ (which literally means “to advise”) by engaging in educational activities with military academies, colleges, weapon and specialty schools, we meet periodically the authorities and we work alongside the Iraqi Chief of Defense Staff with its various articulations: the aim is to initiate reforms that improve the effectiveness of the armed and security forces to make them sustainable”.
For Iannucci, the path taken towards the emancipation of the Iraqi armed forces “is the right one and if we have the capacity as NATO to support those reforms, within three or at most five years the significant effectiveness of our efforts will be demonstrable, therefore without greater need for assistance but only in reduced forms”.
Making the Iraqi security forces capable of ensuring peace and stability in their own country and in the entire Middle East region is therefore the result set by the mission. After all, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine also has repercussions in this quadrant of the world, where neighboring Iran collaborates in an increasingly close and strategic manner with Moscow: “of course – comments the general – the resolution of the war in Eastern Europe will not it passes through us, but we are trying to avoid instability and conflicts in this area too, where our job is precisely to prevent”.
There are fifteen thematic areas through which the soldiers of the Alliance forces, less than 600 men, aim to involve local resources: from training to logistics, up to the knowledge of languages. “Here there is something that goes beyond what was done in Afghanistan – explains the commander – An extraordinary effort was made there but there was no transition, a transfer of responsibility to the Afghan authorities, which we are doing here. we can expect to be successful by imposing Western models. We must give our contribution to the Iraqi security forces filtered through their history and culture”.
Among the examples cited is that of the female component in the Baghdad army: “here women in general have an important role and are accepted, but the military sector is traditionally reserved for the male world and one of our objectives is to place them in roles of command in the Iraqi military system. c‘has already been some recruitment among Iraqi women in the armed forces, but the next step is to make them relevant in the world of defense, to enable them to fully participate in decision-making aspects”.
Initially, the Iraqi population instinctively did not welcome the presence of the Coalition, but over time there has been more and more curiosity, collaboration and adhesion, through universities and institutions. This is also thanks to a widespread information campaign on the media and above all on social networks, where there are now tens of thousands of people who follow the profiles of the ‘Nato Mission Iraq’ on the various platforms. “The big challenge – reflects Iannucci – must be won by the Iraqi prime minister Sudani, initiating those reforms that take away oxygen from those who stir up discontent and protests. The same ones that at the time of Isis, now defeated, took root among the population, where the he average age is 21. Extremism is fought by offering a young population acceptable conditions and expectations”.
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