Task Group Taji, comprising about 100 New Zealand soldiers and 300 Australian Defence Force personnel, has begun training Iraqi Security Forces in night combat as it reshapes their training to help them foil Islamic State’s new tactics.
Photo: Australian Defence Force
29 July 2017
A combined New Zealand-Australian task force in Iraq has begun taking the skills of Iraqi soldiers to another level to ensure they can hold on to the gains made against Islamic State (IS).
Included in that was night-combat training to counter the non-conventional tactics adopted by the remnants of IS as they sought to retain the few pockets of Iraq still under their control, Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said.
“So on the tactical level, we need to adjust the training to help Iraqi troops maintain security in areas liberated from IS and deal with the changing nature of the fight against the Islamic militants,” Major General Gall said.
Training continued at Camp Taji and at other secure alternate locations across Iraq, he said.
“Having well-trained forces remains important in keeping the peace and holding on to the gains made against IS.”
The New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) Senior National Officer in Iraq’s Camp Taji said the first batch of 35 Iraqi soldiers had started the six-day night combat course, which was developed by five NZDF trainers.
“Our trainees are combat veterans who are eager to step up their skills. So we’re teaching them how to conduct night-combat operations in complex terrain against a determined and capable enemy,” he said.
“The enhanced ability to operate under cover of darkness will help them defeat IS.”
The course covers the theoretical and practical components of patrolling and movement by night, including conducting ambushes. It will culminate with the trainees executing a night ambush.
Australian Army Major James Tarpley, Officer Commanding of Task Group Taji’s Advise and Assist team, said this type of training was vital to help the Iraqi Army keep IS on the back foot.
Although Mosul is back under the control of Iraqi Government forces, a handful of Iraqi towns and cities remain in the clutches of IS.
Task Group Taji, comprising about 100 New Zealand soldiers and 300 Australian Defence Force personnel, has trained about 25,000 Iraqi troops and Federal Police since its training mission began in May 2015. It provided training to units of the 9th, 15th and 16th Iraqi Army Divisions, which took part in the campaign to retake Mosul from IS.