Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Defence Minister Brownlee heads to Europe to discuss next steps for Iraq

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Photo/ Greg Bowker
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Photo/ Greg Bowker

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee leaves New Zealand today for a meeting in Paris to discuss what happens to Mosul after Iraq takes control of it again.

New Zealand is not involved in any combat role in the move on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city which was seized by ISIS two years ago.

But alongside Australia it has helped to train 12,000 Iraqi troops at Camp Taji near Baghdad, and many of those troops are involved in the Mosul mission.

Brownlee said the meeting of the coalition of countries helping Iraq to fight ISIS would be briefed on the Mosul campaign but would largely be forward looking.

"If you think of Mosul of being a city with the population of Auckland plus, re-establishing civil Government there will be a big priority for the Iraqi authorities and part of that will be some of the general policing activities that would normally happen in any civil society."

New Zealand has offered to undertake training of stabilization forces but he said that had not yet been called on.

"The next focus for the New Zealand Australia trainers will be at the NCO level - what we would called warrant officers and senior enlisted soldiers - doing some of the training that would set them up for commanding stabilisation units in the retaken territories."

Australia has a more active role than New Zealand, in providing air support and it has special forces in the field HQ near Mosul advising and assisting Iraqi special forces.

"The efforts in Iraq are led by the Iraqi security forces and it is very a supporting role that every other country is playing to them."

If that same role was taken post ISIS as Iraq tried to settle back to some more comfortable life for its people, that would be a good thing he said.

The meeting will be hosted by France and the United States and will also include Britain, Canada, Italy, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands. Spain and Denmark.

This will be the fourth meeting of its kind that Brownlee has attended.

Meanwhile Brownlee dismissed reports in the Guardian which listed New Zealand's SAS as among those playing a combat role in Iraq, saying it had been ruled out by the Government.

"We have also been clear that special forces could be deployed for short periods - for example, to provide advice on issues like force protection or to help with high profile visits, as they have many time before."

- NZ Herald

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