A large contingent of New Zealand Defence Force personnel have arrived in Australia for further training for the joint mission New Zealand and Australia will undertake in Iraq next month.
Unlike the other training trips by Kiwi soldiers to Australia to prepare, where Australian news media has revealed the trips, the NZDF today issued their own statement.
It said about 120 NZDF personnel left Ohakea Air Force base this morning for a mission readiness exercise in Australia.
"The three-day exercise at Enoggera military camp near Brisbane will include a series of scenarios designed to ensure the trainers in the 'building partner capacity' mission are ready, and to demonstrate to their senior commanders that they are fully prepared for the tasks and environment they will face in Iraq. "
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Those travelling to the exercise included trainers, health, logistics and force protection personnel, as well as headquarters staff.
Most would return to New Zealand at the end of the week, however some would stay in Australia and join an advance party to Iraq.
The New Zealanders and Australians are scheduled to leave in May for Camp Taji north of Baghdad where they will help to train the Iraqi army to take on Islamic State (Isis).
New Zealand will deploy 106 to Camp Taji and another 40 will be stationed in the region in support capacity.
On March 31 the ABC reported New Zealand had begun pre-deployment training in Australia. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed that 50 had returned from Australia and been replaced with another 60.
Prime Minister John Key said today that he and Mr Brownlee had gone to Linto Army camp near Palmerston to personally farewell them, some of whom would be going directly to Iraq from Australia.