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National startled by PM's Iraqi confession

National startled by PM's Iraqi confession

National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power says he is staggered by the Prime Minister's admission that she knew Kiwi casualties were likely in Iraq, but still deployed them with light arms and in civilian vehicles.

"National has been saying for months that the engineers in Iraq should have been better armed and in adequately armoured vehicles," says Mr Power.

"It is entirely appropriate that our forces are helping the Iraqi people. But that does not mean the unnecessary endangerment of our troops.

"British forces recently introduced armoured Land Rovers from Northern Ireland following an incident where British soldiers had been killed in a civilian vehicle," Mr Power says.

"Unfortunately Helen Clark's Government didn't appear to take the threat as seriously.

"I know the New Zealand Army is currently trying to replace its ageing Land Rovers, but there is no reason why our forces in Iraq could not have leased or borrowed vehicles off the allied forces.

"That's what the SAS was forced to do in Afghanistan," notes Mr Power.

"The Iraq deployment also highlights the desperate need for new Light Operational Vehicles for the Army. This acquisition project has been repeatedly delayed.

"Our troops need to be properly equipped so they can do their job safely. They, and all New Zealanders, should expect nothing less," Mr Power says.

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