The deployment of 106 Defence Force personnel to a military base in Iraq will include just 16 trainers, the New Zealand Defence Force chief confirmed yesterday.
Every Defence Force member sent to Taji Base outside Baghdad will be armed, officials said, confirming that insider attacks from the Iraqi Army was one of several risks they would face.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant- General Tim Keating revealed further details about the deployment yesterday, after Prime Minister John Key's confirmation in Parliament that the Government would send up to 143 personnel to Iraq in a training role for up to two years.
General Keating would not reveal the breakdown of roles among this group, but said 16 of the 106 personnel based at Taji would be specialist trainers. The rest of the group was made up of logistics support and force protection, though he noted the whole force had a mandate to provide some training. Another 37 NZDF personnel would be based at other locations in the Middle East - including Baghdad - to create a supply line for the troops at the military base.
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Every staff member in Iraq would be armed and would retain the right to self-defence.
The NZDF did not have status of forces agreement in place, but General Keating said this was just one legal framework for engaging force in another country, and other options were being considered. He confirmed that the SAS would not play a role in Iraq, but said they could be called on. The RNZAF was likely to support the deployment, though it was not yet known where aircraft would land.
The Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) and Security Intelligence Service (SIS) would not assist with finding targets for airstrikes.
Mr Key said yesterday these agencies could provide information to protect New Zealand troops "behind the wire".
Mr Key said it was the Government's intention for the deployment to last no longer than two years. This timeframe was consistent with US President Barack Obama's commitment and allowed a reasonable amount of time to make a difference in training Iraqi troops.