By Staff Reports
Less than two weeks after the Governments of Iraq and the United States announced the successful transition from combat to an advise, assist and enable role, key Iraqi government and military officials visited two Iraqi bases where Coalition forces are invited guests to observe the new mission first-hand.
At Al Asad Air Base, the delegation led by Mr. Qasim al-Araji, National Security Advisor of Iraq and Iraqi Staff Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir al-Shammari, deputy commander, Joint Operations Command for Iraq was welcomed by Iraqi Air Force Maj. Gen. Abbas Fadhil Damer, commander, Al Asad Air Base.
"On behalf of troops at Al Asad Air Base it was an honor to host the delegation's visit,” said Abbas. “We are proud to show our partnership with coalition forces and have them as invited guests at this base."
At Al Asad, the group visited a former Patriot Missile System site that housed hundreds of combat troops, but is now vacant. The group also visited living quarters that housed a full combat troop battalion – dozens of living areas with vacant bunk bunk beds, awaiting imminent removal. Lastly, the group visited an equipment staging area where millions of dollars of ammunition, supplies, vehicles, combat equipment, and weapons are transferred to Iraqi Security Forces multiple times per week.
At Al Asad, in the last week alone, 60 pallets of equipment, supplies, and ammunition worth nearly $1M was transferred to Iraq’s military. Next week, another $5M is scheduled to be transferred from the staging facility they toured.
“Today, a high-ranking Iraqi delegation toured this base,” said Iraqi Maj. Gen. Saad Maan, head of Iraq’s Security Media Cell, on a video posted to Twitter. “We noted there were no combat units left.”
At Erbil Air Base, the delegation led by Lt. Gen. al-Shammari, was greeted by officials from the Kurdish government, where the parties toured the former headquarters and operational center for a combat operations unit that has departed. The group also saw equipment that was to be transferred to the Peshmerga, but was damaged in an attack from malign actors on an Iraqi convoy.
The tour ended with a briefing at the Kurdish Coordination Center, part of the Coalition’s Military Advisory Group-North. Advisers briefed their roles in how they assist and enable their partners.
Maj. Gen. Yehia Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s commander-in-chief, noted that the Coalition’s new mission was related to the outcome of the dialogue between the governments of Iraq and the United States, in a video posted to Twitter.
Coalition forces remaining will not be in a combat role, said Rasool.
“Their role will be to provide advice and support to Iraqi forces in their mission to fight Daesh terrorist gangs,” said Rasool.
U.S. Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan, Jr., commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the international force charged with advising, assisting, and enabling Iraqi forces to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh, was honored to participate in the delegation.
“We are proud to be Iraq’s invited guests on Iraqi installations,” said Brennan. “We were able to fully transition from a combat role to our new mission to advise, assist, and enable Iraqi Security Forces well ahead of schedule, and we look forward to a bright future for our transformative partnership. We will advise and assist our partner forces to enable the protection of the people of Iraq.”