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

Kiwis in Iraq approved to train armed police at another base

An Iraqi troop in a training sessions at Camp Taji. Photo / Mike Scott
An Iraqi troop in a training sessions at Camp Taji. Photo / Mike Scott

Five New Zealand Defence Force personnel stationed at Camp Taji near Baghdad will periodically take part in training Iraqi armed police at another base, Taqaddum.

That will spread New Zealanders across three bases: Camp Taji, Besmaya south of Baghdad where the Kiwis hand over Iraqi trainees for heavy weapons training; and now to Taqqaddum, about 70 km west of Baghdad.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said New Zealand trainers may in the future be sent to bases other than the three already approved.

"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," he said.

"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 situation was constantly changing, as was evident with the offensive by Iraq to retake Mosul from Isis.

"As a responsible contributor we have to be adaptable."

He said Al Taqaddum was a secure coalition airbase in Anbar province.

"The base is a protected coalition site and comprehensive force protection is in place."

Brownlee said the new training would be for short periods of about two weeks.

It would not change the size of the overall deployment or add any cost.

The extension of the New Zealand role to train armed police as well as troops was announced in June. At the same time the deployment of 143 perssonnel was extended to November 2018, and the travel to Besmaya approved.

The deployment began in May 2015 and was originally due to end two years later.

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

Australian troops and British troops will be invovled in the training of the armed police at Taqaddum, too.

- NZ Herald

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