PM announces contribution to coalition against ISIL

  • John Key
Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key today announced a Government decision to deploy a military training mission to Iraq as part of New Zealand’s overall contribution to the international coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

New Zealand’s military personnel will fulfil a non-combat, behind the wire mission to train Iraqi Security Forces so they are better prepared to fight ISIL.

“ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too,” Mr Key says.

“New Zealanders are prolific travellers and we are not immune from the threat ISIL poses.

“ISIL’s brutality has only worsened and its outrageous actions have united an international coalition of around 62 countries to fight and degrade the group.

“We have carefully considered options to expand our contribution to the coalition beyond the humanitarian assistance we have already provided.

“We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

“The Iraqi government has requested support and Cabinet has agreed this week to deploy personnel to Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad to train units within the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia although it will not be an ANZAC-badged deployment.

“The two year mission, likely to start from May, will be reviewed by Cabinet after nine months.

“The number of personnel deploying to Taji is up to 106 and there will be others such as staff officers deploying in coalition headquarters and support facilities in the region.

“The total number altogether will be up to 143.

“A training mission like this is not without danger and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“I have required assurances that our men and women will be as safe as they can practicably be in Taji.

“Our force protection needs have been assessed by NZDF and determined as being able to be met by the well-trained soldiers of our regular Army.

“So we will be sending our own force protection to support the training activities.

“The New Zealand Government will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the nature and scope of the activities of our personnel.

“We will be taking steps in coming weeks with our Iraqi counterparts to secure the best legal protections we realistically can for our personnel.

“We recognise that military training on its own will not solve the problems ISIL poses in Iraq.

“That’s why we are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts and are currently examining options to provide more humanitarian aid.

“In return we expect to see genuine effort in Iraq to move towards a law-abiding democratic country that treats all of its citizens with respect.”