Baghdad wants the coalition engaged in the fight against the ISIS group to train Iraqi police officers, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.
The request comes as the anti-ISIS partners are preparing to boost their support in the battle against the militants launched in August 2014.
“The Iraqis very much would like more help with the training of the local police force,” a senior U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They think it’s made a significant difference in Ramadi,” the Iraqi city retaken from ISIS after a fierce battle, “and they want to see it duplicated.”
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.
The coalition needs to find different ways to help, beyond trainers, such as by providing military advisors, special forces soldiers, planes and aircraft for aerial intelligence, according to Washington.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met Friday with U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at the Davos gathering of policymakers and business leaders and expressed his interest in getting support for police training, the U.S. official said.
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 U.S. official said.
“If police can hold territory” and Iraq’s commandos “can move on to the next mission, that’s a big deal,” the official said.
He described the commandos, known as the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), as Iraq’s “best forces” and “most capable” soldiers.
“One month of training in the eyes of the Iraqis made a significant difference ... and they are very eager to get additional assistance in the training of the police forces,” the official said.
The coalition’s strategy is aimed at destroying ISIS by focusing on their power centers in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and Raqqa in Syria.SHOW MORE