A large contingent of Defence Force personnel to be deployed in Iraq left Ohakea Air Force Base today for Australia, the Defence Force says.

The group was farewelled by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Commander of the Joint Forces, Major General Tim Gall, and Army Chief Major General Dave Gawn.

It said it would not be saying when the group would be heading to the Middle East for security reasons.

The mission is a non-combat mission to Camp Taji north of Baghdad to train Iraqi troops to fight Isis. It is a two-year mission and Prime Minister John Key said yesterday in a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he was determined to stick to the two-year deployment.


The Defence Force secrecy around deployments is contrary to Australia's approach and to previous New Zealand deployments when media were sometime invited to cover them.

The New Zealand Government is somewhat irritated by the lack of information - Mr Key said yesterday he did not know whether or not New Zealand troops were yet on the ground in Camp Taji - but are accepting NZDF advice for now.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told Newstalk ZB last week said the Defence Force "probably could tell us a little bit more at times about their operations" but he was not getting too wound up about it.