About 250 Iraqi Army non-commissioned officers have just completed training provided by New Zealand and Australian troops at Camp Taji, bringing the total number of Iraqi soldiers trained by the ANZAC training force to more than 4000.
Around 235 Iraqi Army soldiers marched out of the third Junior Leader’s Course (JLC) supported by Task Group Taji actually bringing the grand total number of soldiers trained by Task Group Taji, the combined Australian and New Zealand Task Group, to around 4220 since it commenced last April.
Major General Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said this marked an important milestone in New Zealand’s ongoing contribution to international efforts to train and build the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces.
“Building the capability of the ISF to a level necessary to secure the defeat of ISIL will take time. What is encouraging is that the Iraqis are regaining their confidence and have begun to demonstrate, like in Ramadi, the capability and determination they need to mount a successful counter-offensive,” Major General Gall said.
The newly graduated non-commissioned officers include the third group of ISF members who have completed the Junior Leaders Course.
A new training audience will start the course in mid- March.
One of the brigades trained by the combined New Zealand-Australian task group was involved in the counter-offensive in Ramadi late last year.
Commander Task Group Taji Australian Colonel Gavin Keating said the training provided by Task Group Taji would lead to the long-term development of the Iraqi Army.
“This training is significant for the Iraqi Army because this is all about developing their junior leaders and junior non-commissioned officers,” he said.
“That’s critical for the long-term institutional development of their Army.”
Colonel Keating said he was proud of the efforts by the Australian and New Zealand trainers who supported the course.
“The task group trainers have done an excellent job in imparting a lot of basic skills to the students,” he said.
“We’ve certainly seen a rise in the capability and confidence in those skills and I’m sure that when they go back to their units it will set them up well.
“I’ve been very impressed with the New Zealand and Australian trainers who have been involved with this course.
“They’ve been very positive, they’ve been very professional in their approach to the students and they’ve developed excellent rapport with the students.
“They have been great ambassadors for our respective nations.”
New Zealand has deployed 106 troops to support the Building Partner Capacity mission — an international effort to combat the terrorist organisation ISIL by helping to train the ISF.
Australia has around 300 personnel involved.
Task Group Taji provides training on weapons handling, combat first aid, live fire training, building clearances, obstacle breaching techniques, counter-IED, map reading, tactics and techniques for squad through to company-level operations, marksmanship, and leadership.
All ISF members are also taught the fundamental aspects of international human rights law and the Laws of Armed Conflict.
“We expect more ISF members will be trained in coming months, showing the Iraqi government’s regard for the value of the training programme and the enhanced capabilities of their trained forces,” Major General Gall said.
The Iraqi Minister of Defence Khalid Al Obaidi and Iraqi Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Training Lieutenant General Salahedeen Mustafa Kamal attended the graduation parade along with Commanding General Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command Major General Richard Clarke.