New Zealand-Australian troops to train new Iraqi forces

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Wellington: New Zealand and Australian troops in Iraq will train about 2,000 Iraqi security forces personnel in the next fortnight to fight Islamic State (IS) insurgents, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said in a statement on Friday.

“A steady flow of capable personnel is crucial in sustaining the counter-offensive against the terrorist group,” Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand said, Xinhua news agency reported.

Many of the forces trained by the joint New Zealand-Australian Task Group Taji had joined the assault to reclaim the western part of Mosul, said Gall.

Some formed part of stabilisation forces who were working to ensure the gains made against the IS in other parts of Iraq were sustained.

“We’ve helped build a fighting force that’s contributing to the current offensive against IS. But apart from force generation, we are also training the next generation of Iraqi military leaders who will be responsible for protecting their country in the future,” he said.

Task Group Taji, which comprised about 100 New Zealand troops and 300 Australian Defence Force personnel, had trained more than 21,000 Iraqi government forces since its training mission began in May 2015.

Since last October, the NZDF had sent small groups of training and force protection teams to other secure training locations in Iraq.

New Zealand soldiers had also been training stabilisation forces such as the Iraqi Border Guards in addition to the Iraqi Army.

Originally set for two years, the NZDF contribution to the international Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq was extended by the government to November 2018.

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