NZ troops welcomed home from Iraq mission

  • 24/11/2017
More than 100 Kiwi soldiers spent six months in Iraq.
More than 100 Kiwi soldiers spent six months in Iraq. Photo credit: Getty

About 100 New Zealand soldiers credited with helping to boost the combat edge of Iraqi troops against Islamic State extremists have returned home from a six-month training mission.

Deployed to Camp Taji in May, the fifth rotation of NZ Defence Force troops worked alongside 300 Australian Defence Force counterparts to train more than 4000 Iraqi Security Force personnel.

Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, says many Iraqi soldiers trained by the combined task group supported combat operations against ISIS.

He says those soldiers are now maintaining security in liberated areas.

"The training we provided has sharpened the combat edge of Iraqi forces, helping them recapture swaths of Iraq that ISIS militants seized three years ago," he said.

"We are proud of the work they have done and their contribution to Iraq's efforts in developing a self-reliant and self-sustaining force."

Major General Peter Kelly, the Chief of Army, was among those who welcomed the troops in Christchurch on Thursday.

"During my visit to Taji in October, I was impressed with the level of professionalism and commitment from all our soldiers in such an austere environment," he said.

"In my talks with senior Iraqi officials, they were incredibly complimentary of all our efforts."

Task Group Taji, as the combined New Zealand and Australian task group is called, has trained more than 28,000 Iraqi Security Force personnel since its mission began in May 2015.

The Government last year extended the NZDF's training mission in Iraq to November 2018.

NZN