New Zealand Defence Force personnel to remain in Iraq

By Online News - Rereātea

143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will remain at Taji Military Camp in Iraq for an additional 18 months.

Prime Minister John Key announced Cabinet had approved an extension and an adjustment to New Zealand’s military deployment in Iraq, taking it through to November 2018.

The decision has been criticised by opposition parties.

The Green Party says the Government has broken its promise and put New Zealand troops in further danger.

Green's co-leader James Shaw says, “John Key went to Camp Taji and made a promise that New Zealand troops would not serve longer than two years, but mission creep has set in a mere seven months later."

Labour leader Andrew Little says, “It was always obvious that the Iraq deployment would not be complete within the two years originally set for the mission, and the Prime Minister has not been open with the public about the demands being made on our troops by Coalition allies.”

In contrast, the Prime Minister says the decision “Reflects the progress we have made and the evolving needs in Iraq as land is recaptured from ISIL. As more territory is recaptured, well trained professional Iraqi stabilisation forces like the Iraqi Federal Police will have a critical role to play. Cabinet has agreed in principle that New Zealand personnel be authorised to provide training to these stabilisation forces in addition to the Iraqi army. Specific defence proposals to train stabilisation forces will be considered on a case by case basis by the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and myself."

Opposition parties claim the New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Iraq will only put New Zealand troops at further risk and also makes New Zealanders unnecessary targets of ISIL.