NZDF troops train in Australia ahead of Iraq deployment

7 April 2015 (Last Updated April 7th, 2015 18:30)

Approximately 120 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have departed Ohakea Air Force Base to conduct defence staff training with Australia prior to the forthcoming deployment to Iraq.

Approximately 120 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have departed Ohakea Air Force Base to conduct defence staff training with Australia prior to the forthcoming deployment to Iraq.

According to local media, the contingent consisted of trainers, health, logistics and force protection personnel, as well as headquarters staff.

NZDF said in a statement: "The group includes a large number of personnel who will deploy to Iraq in the Building Partner Capacity training mission, as well as exercise support staff.

"The three-day exercise at Enoggera military camp near Brisbane will include a series of scenarios designed to ensure the trainers in the Building Partner Capacity mission are ready, and to demonstrate to their senior commanders that they are fully prepared for the tasks and environment they will face in Iraq."

"The group includes a large number of personnel who will deploy to Iraq in the Building Partner Capacity training mission, as well as exercise support staff."

The majority of the soldiers are scheduled to return home by the weekend, however some will remain in Australia before deploying to Iraq with an advance party.

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 militants.

Based at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, the NZDF personnel will join 300 Australian troops to train Iraqi Security Forces to be able to commence combat operations at a trained level, as agreed by both the Iraqis and coalition trainers.

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

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has signed a legal agreement with Iraq that is required for NZDF personnel to fight in Iraq.

New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee was quoted by The New Zealand Herald as saying: "I think we've got a satisfactory arrangement with the Iraqis about appropriate protection for our soldiers who are going to be engaged in the Building Partnership Capacity mission."