Government confirms Taji objectives being achieved

  • Gerry Brownlee

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says Cabinet has received and accepted the review of the first nine months of the joint New Zealand-Australia mission to train Iraqi Defence Force personnel at Taji, in Iraq.

“So far this has been a successful mission,” Mr Brownlee says.

“It has allowed some of New Zealand’s best soldiers to impart their knowledge and high standards to Iraqi soldiers who need help to rid their country of Daesh,” Mr Brownlee says.

“To date the Task Group Taji Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission has trained over 4000 Iraqi Army soldiers, including training and support to three Iraqi Army junior leadership courses. 

“Reporting indicates that after the initial nine months of the mission the training is having a tangible and positive impact on the ability of the Iraqi Army to take the fight to Daesh.

“Units trained by the coalition’s numerous Building Partner Capacity missions are performing better than those that have not been through the training programme.”

In addition to coalition reporting, the NZDF has been assessing the performance of its contribution to the BPC mission at Taji on a monthly basis.

“The findings of those assessments have been positive and confirm that the intent of the mission is being met,” Mr Brownlee says.

The BPC training programme is centred on the provision of basic skills, which includes training in the laws of armed conflict, human rights, basic weapons handling, combat first aid, obstacle breaching techniques and planning for combat operations.

In total, trainers at five coalition BPC sites across Iraq have trained around 19,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces since November 2014.

Outside of the standard programme of instruction, the Government of Iraq requested that Task Group Taji provide support to the training of junior non-commissioned officers – an area of particular need in the Iraqi system.  Three Iraqi Army courses have been completed with Task Group Taji support, and a fourth will begin shortly.

Mr Brownlee says the course is particularly well regarded by the Iraqi Army leadership, and is a great example of how Task Group Taji have quickly added value to the initial proposition put to them.

“While much has been achieved in the nine months since training began at Taji, the Iraqi Army still has a huge fight on its hands to rid its country of the Daesh terrorists.

“Iraq needs and appreciates our support and instruction in helping them achieve freedom from Daesh, and New Zealanders can be very proud of what our troops are doing.

“The mission will continue as planned,” Mr Brownlee says.

The Cabinet Paper is available at