28 October 2016
The fourth contingent of 106 New Zealand Defence Force soldiers left this afternoon for Australia to undertake integration training with their Australian Defence Force counterparts in the lead-up to their joint mission to train Iraqi troops.
Following the two-week integration training, the New Zealand troops and about 300 ADF personnel will go to Iraq’s Camp Taji as the fourth rotation of the combined New Zealand-Australia training group.
The incoming NZDF Senior National Officer and Deputy Commander of Task Group Taji said the contingent was well-prepared and trained to achieve the mission, and had demonstrated an excellent attitude throughout their preparation.
“As the head of the New Zealand contingent, my top three priorities are to keep our people safe, to ensure our members integrate effectively into the joint force, and to pursue excellence in everything we do,” he said.
The new group of New Zealand trainers would build on the success of the three previous NZDF contingents, which hade established an easy rapport with the Iraqi Security Forces they were training, he said.
“The NZDF historically brings an ability to connect with the people we are sent to assist. Previous contingents have established a positive relationship with the ISF under their instruction. This dimension of our influence cannot be underestimated as we strive to build the ISF’s capacity.”
Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly said he was confident the latest rotation of New Zealand troops would continue the good work of their predecessors and do an outstanding job in training the Iraqi soldiers.
“Our soldiers are well-prepared, professional and dedicated. Most importantly, they have empathy, which is important when you are trying to build the confidence of soldiers,” MAJGEN Kelly said after farewelling the troops in Christchurch.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said through the Building Partner Capacity training mission New Zealand was helping the Iraqi military develop capable forces to sustain its counter-offensive against Daesh.
“Iraq needs a capable ground force to recover areas seized by Daesh and preserve the gains made against the violent extremists. Although the Iraqi military’s offensive has begun to turn the tide against Daesh, they need continued support through training,” MAJGEN Gall said.
Task Group Taji has trained more than 12,000 Iraqi soldiers since their mission began in May 2015.
The New Zealand Government announced in June that it had extended the NZDF contribution to the training mission until November 2018. The Government also agreed in principle to allow New Zealand soldiers to provide training to stabilisation forces such as the Iraqi Border Guards, in addition to the Iraqi Army.