NZ troops return home from Iraq

NZ troops return home from Iraq

The first contingent of New Zealand troops sent to Iraq to train troops fighting Islamic State have returned home.

The group of 105 soldiers were greeted at Ohakea Airbase by the Defence Minister, who says their work has become even more important following the attacks in Paris.

Returning home after six months of dangerous and intense work, the group of New Zealand Defence Force personnel has been training Iraqi soldiers in the brutal battle against the Islamic State, who are also known as Daesh.

Their work has taken on a whole new dimension since the tragic events in Paris.

"I think it reinforces that Daesh is a threat to the world, not just to Iraq," says one soldier. "Certainly, any difference we can make is certainly appreciated by those that need it."

3 News spoke to a senior member of the contingent, who can't be identified for security reasons. He is confident the work they're doing is making a real, tangible difference.

"I think that for the Iraqi units that we've trained, it's made an outstanding difference to their level of competency, and also their confidence in the battlefield."

That view was reinforced by Major General Tim Gall, the Commander of New Zealand's Joint Forces.

"It's gone really well, actually. We've trained over 2000 people who are now out there on the battlefield, and, by all accounts, are doing really well."

The group of 105 soldiers has now left Ohakea by bus to be reunited with family and friends. The group that replaced them has already been at work in Iraq for the past two weeks.

Two more six-month deployments will now follow.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Paris attacks do not necessarily mean the mission will be extended, but he hasn't ruled it out.

3 News