New Zealand armed forces to start specific training for possible deployement in Iraq

4:51:00 AM
WELLINGTON, -- New Zealand troops are to begin training for a possible deployment to Iraq as part of the fight against the Islamic State (IS), Defense Minister Gerry Brownlee said Tuesday. The New Zealand's cabinet agreed in November last year for up to 10 military planners to be deployed to determine whether New Zealand could play a role in helping the Iraqi security forces build capacity to fight IS, and they were still assessing the possible nature and location of such a mission, he said.
 
New Zealand armed forces start specific training for possible deployement in Iraq 640 001New Zealand's troops patrolling in Afghanistan
(Credit: New Zealand Defense Force)
 
"They are doing their own reconnaissance as well as working alongside the Australian Defense Force," Brownlee said in a statement.

"While the team's work is not complete, I have accepted the chief of defense force's request to begin specific training for a possible building partner capacity role in Iraq," he said.

"This does not pre-empt any cabinet decisions, but is prudent given defense officials are close to providing final advice on a possible mission."

Contingency training would include force protection, cultural awareness and skills relevant to a possible deployment.

"Should there be a deployment, our first objective must be to keep our Defense Force personnel as safe as possible," Brownlee said.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister John Key said the New Zealand government was still considering the country's response to the fight against IS.

"This brutal group is a threat, not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too," Key said in a statement on the government's program for this year tabled at the opening of parliament.

The government's response to IS will cover areas such as humanitarian assistance, diplomatic efforts, intelligence and capacity building, he said, noting a decision will be made in the coming weeks about a potential military training contribution.

Last week, visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond asked New Zealand to join an international coalition to fight IS insurgents as "part of the family" with the United States and Australia.

Key has repeatedly insisted New Zealand troops would not see combat.


The New Zealand Army Soldiers wearing DPM uniforms during an exercise in 2011.


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