The seventh rotation of about 100 New Zealand Defence Force troops left for Iraq this afternoon to support the continuing international effort to train Iraqi forces.
CAPTION: Major General Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Peeni Henare farewell the seventh rotation of New Zealand troops heading to Task Group Taji in Iraq.
The number of Iraqi soldiers and Federal Police trained by Task Group Taji, as the combined New Zealand-Australian training group is called, is expected to reach 34,000 by the end of April.
Many of the Iraqi forces trained by New Zealand and Australian Defence Force personnel joined the campaign to reclaim parts of Iraq from Islamic State (IS), while others form part of stabilisation forces who are working to ensure the gains made against IS are sustained.
“Together with our Australian partners, we have helped Iraqi authorities develop a self-reliant and confident force in the past three years,” Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said after he and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Peeni Henare farewelled the troops at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.
“As a member of the global coalition of 74 countries, we have made a significant contribution to the Iraqi Government’s efforts to defeat IS and liberate parts of their country that were controlled by the terror group.”
The NZDF Senior National Officer for the seventh rotation said the group would do its best to build on the good work achieved by previous rotations.
“It has been encouraging to see Iraqi soldiers eager and motivated to improve their soldiering skills and using the skills that Task Group Taji taught them,” he said.
“Our contingent is looking forward to helping train the Iraqi forces.
“We will also be working closely with Iraqi Army schools, as we begin to focus on training Iraqi trainers to provide their forces with professional training staff.”
Soldiers from the United Kingdom also work alongside members of Task Group Taji.
Combined New Zealand-Australia training mission in Iraq:
- Started in: May 2015
- Number of Iraqi soldiers and Federal Police trained: about 34,000 by the end of April 2018
- Number of NZDF troops deployed to Iraq since 2015: more than 700
- The programme of instruction includes training in: weapons handling, night combat, marksmanship, counter-IED (improvised explosive device), obstacle-breaching techniques and combat first aid.