MESOP : THE ADMIRAL KIRBY REPORT – New US Military Camp Opened Near Erbil to Train the Peshmerga

By Yerevan Saeed – Rudaw – 2015-01-24 – The fourth US military training camp has become “operational” in Erbil, Kurdistan Region to train 100 Peshmerga troops, Pentagon Press Secretary said Friday. “But the fourth one (military site), which became active today, was in Irbil, and there’s about 100 Peshmerga forces right now there that are beginning — just beginning to do some training,” Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

The US has three other military training camps, including Ein al-Asad in Anbar province, Camp Taji and Bismayah near Baghdad where American military experts train Iraqi security and Sunni tribal forces to counter the Islamic State (ISIS). Kirby added that the Erbil military site requires more work. “There’s still some site infrastructure work that has to go on at that particular site.”Commenting on number of Iraqi and Kurdish military members trained by US, he said, “Right now, there’re about 3,600 Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces if you add the hundred that we had there that are — that are in the training pipeline.””So you got roughly 600 at Al Asad, 1,600 at Camp Taji and another 1,300 or so at Bismayah. And then as I said, you got the 100 up there in Irbil, which just started today.”

The Pentagon official predicted that other coalition forces would send trainers to assist Iraqi forces. “And there’s various levels of U.S. troops at each of those sites assisting them. I would also point out that we are — we expect to — and we already have, in some cases — but expect to get additional coalition partners in terms of training at — at those sites.”

According to Kirby, 12 Iraqi and Kurdish brigades will be trained to become effective fighting force. As Iraqi troops battle ISIS militants in Anbar province, the Kurdish Peshmerga have pushed back ISIS in most areas around Mosul.Last week the Peshmerga reclaimed around 450 square kilometers from ISIS west of Mosul and killed 200 jihadis.The Pentagon recognized the effectiveness of the Kurdish forces against ISIS.

Kirby said: “Absolutely these gains, though small in the aggregate, to the total square kilometers we talked about, were only able to be effected by forces on the ground. Indigenous forces on the ground. Now, with our support, of course, from the air. It’s a — it’s not all because of the air campaign, as we just said. It has — it has largely been effected by good coordination with, in this case mostly Kurdish forces on the ground.” He added that ISIS controls 55,000 square kilometers, but some 700 square kilometer have been taken back mostly by Kurdish forces.