WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - Earlier this month, the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) saw a change of command, as Col. Angelo Iachetti, the Italian officer who headed the KTCC, handed over responsibility to the new commander, Col. Antonio Fantastico.
Brig. Gen. Austin Renforth, the US-led Coalition’s Deputy Commanding General-Operations (Iraq), came from Baghdad to attend the December 10 ceremony at Coalition Headquarters in Erbil International Airport, while a number of diplomats and military advisors from among the Coalition members attended the event too.
Kurdistan 24 was present as well and spoke with Iachetti. “I had a very great experience here,” he said, ”because I felt at home.”
Iachetti spent a year at the KTCC, first as Deputy Commander and then as Commander.
“I have many friends, at every level,” Iachetti said, explaining that his work had required him to travel widely through the Kurdistan Region. Thus, he “had the opportunity” to share in the lives of his colleagues in the Peshmerga Forces.
Iachetti spoke even more expansively about his tour of duty to the Peshmerga Media Center, explaining, “Upon my return to Italy, I will be a humble ambassador for Kurdistan and Kurdish rights.”
Asked what are the principal needs of the Peshmerga Forces, Iachetti replied, “The main needs are the things that we are doing right now.”
“[The Peshmerga] are putting their own eagerness in learning tactical techniques that we, as Coalition Forces, are delivering to them,” he said, and they just need to continue “with the support of the Coalition Forces.”
Renforth, from the US Marine Corps, spoke similarly to Kurdistan 24. He explained that the Coalition trains the Peshmerga on “a variety of missions, mostly wide-area security missions.”
Renforth stressed that it is “important to have a well-trained Peshmerga Force for the security of all of this region,” emphasizing the word, “all.”
Renforth readily agreed that the Islamic State was active in the disputed territories.
“What’s the solution?,” he asked. “The solution is to take away those disputed areas—to make sure the Kurdish Security Forces, Iraqi Security Forces, or, together, they have forces in there” to deny the Islamic State access.
Renforth stressed the importance of cooperation between the Kurdish and Iraqi Security forces. “I know talks are in the future” about “joint security measures along the Kurdish Coordination Line.”
“We will come together, and we will figure out the best way to deny those sanctuaries to Daesh,” he affirmed.
Last summer, Kurdistan 24 also spoke with Renforth, when he visited the Kurdistan Region, shortly after his deployment to Iraq began. One of his purposes then was to meet the Peshmerga commander, Gen. Sirwan Barzani.
“I want to thank Gen. Barzani for his hospitality and showing me the history of the Peshmerga forces, and, really, the history of his grandfather,” Renforth told Kurdistan 24, referring to the legendary Mullah Mustafa Barzani.
“It’s important to understand the history of Kurdistan,” he added.
Both Iachetti and Renforth praised the role of Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, who has been nominated to be the next Prime Minister in the Kurdistan Regional Government.
“I think there will be no changes,” when Barzani assumes his new office, Iachetti said, “and he will continue to do a great job for Kurdistan.”
“He understands the importance of security in this region,” Renforth stated, “and I look forward to a continued working relationship with him.”
The KTCC was established in 2014, as the US entered the battle against the Islamic State, mobilizing a large coalition against the terrorist organization. Since then, the KTCC has trained over 13,000 Peshmerga.
(Addition reporting by Blessa Shaweys)