ROME — NATO launched its training mission for Iraqi forces Saturday, sending a small group of officers to Iraq to consult with authorities and prepare logistics.
The NATO Training Implementation Mission, led by Dutch Air Force Maj. Gen. Carel Hilderink, initially will consist of about 45 people. The first four officers left for Iraq on Saturday from a command center in Naples, and the remainder should deploy this week, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said in a statement.
"Through the training of the Iraqi security forces, the alliance will help bring forward the day when international forces are no longer required in Iraq," the statement said.
Alliance headquarters called it the official start of the training mission.
"The guys will essentially start work right away, establishing contact, offering advice and preparing the long-term training," spokesman Robert Pszczel said at alliance headquarters in Brussels.