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Govt gets wake-up call on Iraq

Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

22 September 2003

Govt gets wake-up call on Iraq

The under-resourcing of our defence forces has been exposed yet again following a British Army decision to send armoured Land Rovers to Iraq in a bid to improve the safety of its troops there, says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

The decision comes after British Army personnel serving in Iraq were recently killed when the civilian vehicle they were driving came under fire. The attack's prompted the deployment of armoured Land Rovers to Iraq from Northern Ireland.

"Meanwhile, the New Zealand Army engineers despatched to serve alongside the British will still be forced to use hired civilian vehicles," says Mr Power.

"In light of increased British concern about the safety of their personnel in such vehicles, Helen Clark's Government should be reconsidering whether our personnel have been sent into a dangerous area without adequate protection.

"The safety of our troops should be the Government's number one priority.

"It is time the situation was rectified," says Mr Power.

"National has repeatedly questioned the wisdom of sending a small number of lightly armed engineers into such a dangerous situation.

"The rebuilding of Iraq is a worthy cause, but our troops must be properly equipped so they can do their job safely, efficiently and effectively," Mr Power says.

Ends

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