27 Jan 2019

National favours providing further training support in Iraq

8:49 am on 27 January 2019

The National Party's defence spokesperson says he would be in favour of providing further support in Iraq if it is in line with work already being done.

National MP Mark Mitchell.

Mark Mitchell said in principle he favours New Zealand continuing to provide the high quality training programmes in Iraq that it already has been. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The military alliance NATO has asked New Zealand to extend its involvement in training Iraqi forces.

At present, New Zealand has 143 military staff in Iraq, but their work is due for review in June.

While the extent of NATO's request is yet to be made public, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it will be considered shortly.

The Opposition's defence spokesperson, Mark Mitchell, said New Zealand can help by doing what it's already doing.

"In principle I'd be in favour and support of us continuing to deliver the high quality training programmes that we have been, delivery which has made a huge difference for the combat readiness and capability for the Iraqi troops, and I think we have an important role to play there, we just need to see exactly what we're being asked to do."

Security consultant Paul Buchanan believes NATO's request for New Zealand help in Iraq will replace the country's current deployment, rather than increase it.

He said the current deployment will be reviewed in June and the new request will probably be put into action then.

"I don't envision that the NATO request will result in the deployment of additional troops while the Camp Taji training mission still goes on, I think this is in lieu of the Camp Taji training mission."

Mr Buchanan said it's a significant request, and one the government will have to look at very carefully.

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