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FAQs Re Light Engineer Group To Iraq

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The Deployment Of The New Zealand Light Engineer Group To Iraq

Two rotations of 61 NZDF personnel were deployed as a Light Engineer Group to South-east Iraq to undertake humanitarian and reconstruction tasks consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1483. The Light Engineer Group worked alongside UK engineer units that were components of the Multi-National Division (South-east).

The first rotation deployed from 26 September 2003 – 11 March 2004.

The second rotation deployed from 5 March – 25 September 2004.

What did the Light Engineer Group consist of?

The Light Engineer Group consisted of military engineers and logistic support staff. The engineers were a mix of tradesmen (carpenters, plumbers and electricians), field engineers, firemen and plant operators. The logistic support staff were a mix of cooks, medics, stores personnel, electrical technicians, vehicle mechanics and drivers. They provided logistical support to the engineer group and maintained deployed NZ and loaned UK equipment. The focus of the Light Engineer Group was on assisting the reconstruction of the Iraqi nation through provision of engineer support to the local population.

The Light Engineer Group was deployed as part of the post conflict Operation Iraqi Freedom and was not involved in security operations in Iraq.

Returning Senior National Officer – Lieutenant Colonel Ants HOWIE.

Returning Second in Command – Major Phil MORRISON.

What sorts of tasks did the Light Engineer Group undertake?

The Light Engineer Group worked alongside the UK forces in South-east Iraq to repair and refurbish hospitals, health clinics, schools, police stations, law courts, and municipal and government buildings. In addition, they assisted with the restoration of electric reticulation systems, rebuilding of bridges and water pipelines, and provision of humanitarian assistance to the local population through the construction of town supply reverse osmosis water plants.

How many people were in the Light Engineer Group?

The Light Engineer Group consisted of 61 military personnel from the New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal New Zealand Airforce. The contingent was comprised of four staff officers, 40 engineers and 16 logistic support staff. The returning contingent consists of 58 Army, 1 Navy and 2 Air Force personnel.

How long was the deployment intended for?

The Government agreed to a one year commitment of a Light Engineer Group to assist with the rebuilding of basic infrastructure in Iraq. The first troops deployed in September 2003.

Why was a Light Engineer Group the contribution?

UN Security Council Resolution 1483 made it clear that the UN had a vital role to play in the post-war period. It appealed to UN member states to assist the people of Iraq in their efforts to rebuild their country and to contribute to conditions of stability and security in Iraq. Under Resolution 1483, NZ could make a useful contribution without in any way becoming an occupying power.

As the situation in Iraq showed, there was an urgent need for the kind of civil reconstruction and support that New Zealand could offer.

Did we have adequate equipment and vehicles for this deployment?

Each Light Engineer Group deployed with sufficient construction and self-protection equipment to conduct its intended role in Iraq. There was a requirement to hire vehicles for the Light Engineer Group to operate in Iraq.

Where was the Light Engineer group located?

The majority of the Light Engineer Group personnel were located at a UK camp approximately 30 minutes southwest of Basra International Airport. Two of the NZDF staff officers were stationed at the UK headquarters at the Basra International Airport, and one other staff officer worked in the UK Engineer Headquarters in the township of Basra.

How much did it cost?

The total approximate cost to New Zealand of the Light Engineer Group deployment in Iraq for 12 months was $NZ 10 million.

How was the Light Engineer Group staffed?

The NZDF sustained the Light Engineer Group of 61 personnel by drawing personnel from each of the three services, and including both servicemen and women. Territorial Force personnel were also involved in the deployment.

What experience did the NZDF have for an operation of this type?

The government retains the greatest confidence in our military personnel, including their ability to undertake civil-military duties. In previous deployments – including in environments as diverse as East Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Bosnia and the Middle East – New Zealanders have been respected for their professionalism and their ability to engage and relate to the local people. This type of task is indicative of the wide-ranging, and increasingly complex nature of modern peacekeeping operations.

What was the security situation?

Iraq remains a difficult and challenging environment, but the NZDF was ideally suited to undertake this work, which was so vital to restoring normality for the Iraqi people. There were risks to our personnel (including environmental risks) and it was necessary for them to be able to protect themselves. As is the case with all deployments, the situation was closely monitored during the deployment to ensure that conditions allowed the NZDF to undertake the tasks for which they were deployed.

What was achieved in Iraq?

During the 12 months of the deployment the Light Engineer Group directly contributed to the following tasks:

TG RAKE has conducted the following reconstruction tasks with MND (SE) funding:

installation of 11 water tanks at local schools,

installation of three water points in local facilities,

construction of the Al Tannumah reverse osmosis plant,

construction of an Iraqi Police Station,

construction of Al Hussayn pumping station,

bridge maintenance on Cullingworth and Al Tannumah bridges, and

construction of a water pipeline in Al Tannumah.

The following projects have been completed with NZAID funding:

Refurbishment of Al Oroba, Al Shola, Al Marbid, Hamdan, and Siadit Al Bisahara Schools.

Installation of water tanks at Al Aswmia, Al Hekmah, Al Ansam, Maysam, Al Basrah, Al Harabi, Al Gazza, and Saeda Schools in Basrah.

Installation of water tanks and power at Al Waheda School.

Refurbishment of Al Faihaa Health Clinic.

Refurbishment of Al Rahek Kindergarten.

Refurbishment of the Basrah Teaching Hospital.

Provision of Hospital Furnishings to Basrah Province Hospitals and Health clinics.

Supply of furniture to Al Marbid School.

Provision of business leadership and management training to Iraqi managers of public utilities.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of tasks completed, but is comprised of the most accurate information held at the date of issue.

Were our soldiers at risk from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions?

All personnel being deployed into areas where DU may have been used are briefed on any potential risks that may be posed by DU. The NZDF will continue to provide medical checks and support to any personnel who think they may have been exposed.

How was the Light Engineer Group being supplied?

The UK-led headquarters in South-east Iraq provided the Light Engineer Group with logistic support. Resupply flights from New Zealand were conducted throughout the duration of the deployment. Construction material was obtained through local vendors in South-eastern Iraq and neighbouring nations (Kuwait).

What were the command and control arrangements?

As with all deployments, the Chief of Defence Force maintained full command of the Light Engineer Group, with operational command of deployed NZDF personnel the responsibility of the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand. The Commander appointed a Senior National Officer (SNO) to perform a similar function for the Light Engineer Group.

Deployed personnel were only employed in those locations and on specific tasks and duties that were agreed to between the government and the international coalition. The SNO was authorised to withhold the services of NZDF personnel if any task or proposed action was considered to be outside the scope of the Light Engineer Group mandate, compromised New Zealand’s national position, or would have adversely affected New Zealand’s national interests.

Were forces from other countries working in Southeast Iraq?

Personnel from Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Norway, Portugal, and Lithuania also worked alongside British forces in South-east Iraq.

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