About 90 New Zealand Defence Force troops left home yesterday to begin their six-month rotation withTask Group Taji, the training mission in Iraq.
CAPTION: NZDF COMJ Major General Tim Gall and Defence Minister Ron Mark farewell New Zealand troops at RNZAF Base Ohakea as they begin their journey to the Middle East for Task Group Taji 8. NZDF photo.
The NZDF troops will work alongside 300 Australian military personnel at the Taji military complex north of Baghdad.
These are the eighth rotation of troops deployed since New Zealand joined an international Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq in May 2015.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said further training could help Iraqi forces to consolidate their military gains against ISIS extremists.
“Together with our Australian and other coalition partners, we have helped train an Iraqi Army that is more confident on the battlefield and able to hold ground,” Major General Gall said after he and Defence Minister Ron Mark farewelled the troops at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.
“As the Iraqi military continues to consolidate their gains and stabilise areas reclaimed from ISIS, it is important that they continue to build their capability through training so they can face future challenges.”
NZDF Senior National Officer on Rotation 8 Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck said the contingent looked forward to the training mission.
“We value this opportunity to continue the good work achieved by previous rotations,” he said.
“By helping strengthen the capability of the Iraqi Army we are contributing to the security of Iraq and of the rest of the Middle East region.”
Task Group Taji, as the combined New Zealand-Australian task group is called, has trained more than 39,000 Iraqi soldiers and Federal Police since 2015.
The programmes of instruction usually run for six weeks and include weapons handling and marksmanship at close quarters and longer ranges, combat first aid, obstacle-breaching techniques and counter-improvised explosive device and explosive hazard awareness training.
All Iraqi Security Forces personnel are also taught the fundamental aspects of international human rights law and the Law of Armed Conflict.