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Training of Iraqis at Al Taqaddum approved

Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister of Defence

4 November 2016

Training of Iraqis at Al Taqaddum approved

The government has given approval for New Zealand Defence Force personnel based at Taji, Iraq, to offer training to Iraqi Security Forces at Al Taqaddum Air Base, west of Baghdad.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the approval is for about five NZDF personnel to help deliver a training programme to Iraqi Security Forces for short periods of about two weeks.

“We want to keep contributing to the training of Iraqi Security Forces as they combat Daesh and return stability to Iraq,” Mr Brownlee says.

“This does not change the size of the overall deployment or create additional costs.

“The situation in Iraq is constantly changing, as we have seen with the start of the Mosul offensive.

“As a responsible contributor we have to be adaptable. The new training location will not detract from the training already taking place in Taji, which will continue.”

Al Taqaddum is a secure coalition airbase in Anbar province, about 70km west of Baghdad.

“The base is a protected coalition site and comprehensive force protection is in place,” Mr Brownlee says.

Mr Brownlee says it’s possible that in future NZDF personnel may be asked to train Iraqi forces at locations other than Taji, Besmaya and Al Taqaddum.

“The coalition has a network of secure training sites across Iraq and, as training requirements change, we may receive requests for our Defence Force’s specific skills to be utilised.

“These requests will be considered on a case by case basis, but we do have to be adaptable and flexible, as the situation on the ground in Iraq changes.”

The joint Australian-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity mission at Taji has already trained more than 12,000 Iraqis.

In June, the government extended the Building Partner Capacity deployment until November 2018, and approved that short-term training could be delivered at the secure coalition base at Besmaya.


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