Representatives from throughout the Iraqi counter-terrorism enterprise gathered for an historic counter-terrorism conference, hosted by the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service, here May 9, 2022.
Attendees included officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, Iraqi National Intelligence Service, Federal Intelligence Investigation Agency, Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Kurdish Ministry of Interior, and Kurdistan Ministry of Peshmerga. Key leaders from Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve and Special Operations Joint Task Force - Levant also attended.
“There is no more important network in Iraq to defeat Daesh than the people in this room,” said Maj. Gen. John Brennan, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. “I’m very excited for what we can do together in the future; because together you can accomplish more than individually as different entities within the counter-terrorism enterprise.”
Only the second conference of its kind, and the first that brought together representatives from all of the counter-terrorism units across the entirety of Iraq, the event was designed to promote cooperation, coordination, and information-sharing across all the government elements working to defeat terrorism, including and especially the Peshmerga and other entities within the Kurdistan Regional Government.
“We hope [this meeting will lead to continued] cooperation and coordination at even higher levels,” said Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, the host and commander of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service. “At CTS headquarters, we’re ready to provide all the help and support to the KRG. As far as training, our academy is open to them, and we are ready to train our brothers.”
Wahab added that the Peshmerga, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service and all the participants of the conference are important partners in Iraq’s security forces enterprise and that they share the same goal of defeating terrorism. In support of that shared effort, the conference attendees discussed ways to enhance communication and increase and improve joint planning, training, and intelligence sharing. Leaders in attendance emphasized the importance of interoperability between forces as a crucial element of defeating terrorism. In addition to an opportunity to discuss practical improvements, the conference also served as a networking and relationship-building opportunity for the attendees.
“Today, as we gather, it’s a great opportunity to build relationships and trust,” said Brig. Gen. Isaac Peltier, the commander of SOJTF-L. “We have to build upon and expand [these relationships] to enable effective intelligence sharing and interoperability to be successful and accomplish the mission.”
The desire for greater partnerships, improved teamwork and enhanced trust between all the security services was a prominent theme throughout the event. The participants praised the steps that have already been taken in this regard and discussed opportunities for continued advancement.
“We have a saying–‘it’s amazing what we all can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.’ The people of Iraq deserve [this collaboration]. [They] deserve that we work together to ensure their safety and the safety of their children,” Brennan said. “I know you are all committed to that cause. I see it every day, and I’m proud to be a part of the organization that will eventually defeat Daesh forever.”