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Minister visits NZDF contingent in Iraq

Minister visits NZDF contingent in Iraq

Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has visited New Zealand Defence Force personnel training the Iraqi Security Forces at Camp Taji near Baghdad.

Mr Mitchell, on his first visit to Taji as Minister, was accompanied by fellow MPs Todd Muller and Labour List MP David Parker.

“I am incredibly proud of the work our servicemen and women are doing, and the contribution they are making towards the defeat of ISIS," Mr Mitchell says.

“They are delivering a broad range of high-quality training and have developed the ability to quickly adapt the training to meet changing enemy tactics on the battlefield.

“Since this deployment began in 2015 we've trained over 23,000 Iraqi soldiers, arming them with new skills and capabilities that have assisted them to complete complex joint force tasks.

"Our people are simply outstanding at what they do. It is making a difference as the military fight against ISIS progresses towards its final stages, and it is greatly appreciated not only by the Iraqi Government but our other coalition partners.

"This isn't just a New Zealand mission though - it is a close partnership with the Australian Defence Force with both sides acknowledging they couldn't deliver the mission without the other. I know the entire delegation was pleased to see our two nations working together and supporting one another in the spirit of our Anzac ties.

"Good progress continues to be made in the final liberation of Mosul and the military defeat of ISIS, while not underestimating the longer term challenges the Iraqi Government and Iraqi people face as they stabilise and rebuild territory regained from ISIS. They are looking to the international community for continuing support."

New Zealand has 106 trainers, force protection elements and other Regular Force soldiers at Taji.

While in Iraq Mr Mitchell also met the Iraqi Acting Minister of Defence, General Othman al-Ghanimi and the US commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend.

In the United Arab Emirates Mr Mitchell met and discussed regional issues with Ministry of Defence Under-Secretary His Excellency Matar Salem Al Dhaheri.

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