June 15, 2019

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand Announced That It Will Withdraw All Of Its Kiwi Troops From Iraq By Next June 2020 Following The Defeat Of The Islamic State Militant Group.

Iraqi News, Iraq
written by Mohammed Ebraheem
Monday June 10, 2019

WELLINGTON – New Zealand announced on Monday that it would withdraw all of its troops from Iraq by next June following the defeat of the Islamic State militant group.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the number of New Zealand troops will be reduced to 75 by July and then to 45 by January before all the troops all withdrawn, FOX News reported.

Ardern also announced New Zealand will reduce the number of defense force personnel it has posted in Afghanistan from 13 to 11.

The South Pacific nation has a small contingent of 95 so-called noncombat personnel deployed at the Taji Military Complex northwest of Baghdad, where they are tasked with training Iraqi security forces.

The training mission is a joint operation with Australia, which has about 300 troops stationed at Taji. Australia has not made any announcement about its long-term plans at the base.

New Zealand Herald
written by Jason Walls
Monday June 10, 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that Cabinet has decided to end New Zealand Defence Force troop deployment in Iraq in June next year.

The deployment in Camp Taji will scale down to 75 troops from July and to 45 troops in January before the mission ends in June.

Up to 95 Kiwi troops have been stationed at Camp Taji since February 2015, training Iraqi Security Forces as part of the Building Partner Capacity mission.

"When it comes to Iraq, it's time to go." Ardern said.

Ardern said more than 44,000 ISF personnel have been trained at Taji since New Zealand was deployed as part of the multinational Defeat-Isis Coalition.

"Four years ago New Zealand made a commitment to the Iraqi Government and to the Coalition to train the ISF at Taji and lift their capability to defeat and prevent the resurgence of Isis," Ardern said.

"Over the next 12 months, New Zealand will be able to wind down and conclude that commitment."

But New Zealand will however increase its stabilisation funding to Iraq to about $3 million a year for the next three years - from $2.4m in 2018-19 - to help communities recover and rebuild after the conflict with Isis.

The money will come from within MFat's overseas aid and development fund, and will contribute to what has been estimated to be a US$87 billion rebuild of Iraq.

Ardern said she had spoken to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison who had reacted positively to the news.

Ardern said when she came into Government, she had to honour the commitment that had been made to the Iraqi Government.

Defence Minister Ron Mark said he was proud that New Zealand can take a leading role in female leadership in the region.

He said the Government has decided what is best for New Zealanders.

Mark said the training mission is nearing an end and "now it's about mentoring and training the trainers".

He said the Government had conducted a carefully planned exit strategy.

Ardern said she was proud of the work Kiwi servicemen and women do overseas – "they serve us incredibly well".

She would not comment on whether or not it was the right decision to send Kiwi troops in the first place.

Asked if Australia was also pulling out of Iraq, Ardern said it was not for her to announce Australia's long-term commitment to Iraq.

In the 2019 Budget, just under $60 million was allocated to operations contributing to New Zealand's security, stability and interests.

This is described as: "The employment of New Zealand's Armed Forces overseas at the Government's direction."

But just over $26 million was allocated to the same Budget line in the 2019/20 financial year.

The mandate for the joint training mission with Australia, based at Taji camp, was meant to expire in November last year.

But two months before, the Government announced it would extend its deployment in Iraq - until June this year.

"The Government has weighed a number of factors, including carefully considering the risks to our servicemen and women based on advice from the New Zealand Defence Force," Ardern said at the time.

Nato this year asked New Zealand to join its new training mission in Iraq.

At a joint press conference at the time, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Nato had launched a new training mission in Iraq: "We will of course welcome contributions from New Zealand to that training mission."

But Ardern said she did not give him any commitment and would need to discuss the idea with Cabinet colleagues, but noted that NZ troops were already in Iraq.

When in Opposition, Labour was against sending troops to Iraq and wanted to bring them home.

"Labour's position is clear: we should not send troops to Iraq," then Labour leader Andrew Little said in early 2015.

Where NZ troops are stationed:

Iraq: 121 personnel

Egypt: 28 personnel

Afghanistan: 13 personnel

South Korea: Six personnel

Lebanon: Eight personnel

South Sudan: Four personnel

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