New Zealand soldiers reach Iraq to support BPC mission

11 May 2015 (Last Updated May 11th, 2015 18:30)

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have reached the Taji Military Complex in Iraq, to support the international building partner capacity (BPC) training mission in the country.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have reached the Taji Military Complex in Iraq, to support the international building partner capacity (BPC) training mission in the country.

New Zealand Defence Force chief lieutenant general Tim Keating said the team is on the ground preparing to use its skills to train the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

Keating said: "This will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills, including basic weapons.

"It also includes the planning of operations, and medical and logistics support to operations."

In February, the New Zealand Government confirmed plans to deploy 143 soldiers to Iraq by the end of May, to train the local security forces to better fight the Islamic State (IS) militants.

"This will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills, including basic weapons."

In April, approximately 120 NZDF soldiers, including trainers, health, logistics and force protection personnel, as well as headquarters staff, conducted comprehensive pre-deployment training exercise at Enoggera military camp near Brisbane, Australia.

Operating out of Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, the NZDF contingent will join the 300 Australian Defence Force personnel to train ISF to commence combat operations at a trained level, as agreed by both the Iraqis and coalition trainers.

Supported by forces from Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, and the US, the BPC mission aims to train ISF to a state where they are considered a self-sustaining capability for the Iraqi Government.

The training will also enable the Iraqi Government to prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against IS, and regain control of its territory.

The non-combat mission is scheduled to run for a two-year period, with a review to be conducted after nine months.