Taking the fight to the terrorists

Mark Mitchell has given hints that the government is preparing to take the fight to Islamic terrorists:

The Government is preparing itself for potential requests by countries in Southeast Asia for assistance in fighting Islamic terrorists which could involve air surveillance or even deploying the SAS.

Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has confirmed to the Weekend Herald that the Government is seeking advice on what role New Zealand defence forces could play.

“I am revisiting looking at what our footprint is up there and what our policy is what we may need to do to change or adapt what is a constantly changing threat environment,” Mitchell said.

He stressed that New Zealand would contribute only the request of a host country, such as the Philippines, which lost control of Marawi city in Mindanao in May to Islamic insurgents, reportedly fighting under the Isis flag.

Australia has already deployed P3 Orion surveillance flights to help the Philippines armed forces.

Asked if the SAS could be deployed, Mitchell said: “It is possible that we could receive a request but we haven’t received one.”

“There has been no official request come through for any sort of defence support whether it be SAS or search and surveillance P3 type capability but we just take every request on face value.”

But he said the Philippines had big issues with securing the shipping channels which were very active with drugs, weapons, and human trafficking.

Mitchell said the United States was an important defence partner for New Zealand “and they will certainly continue to be important partners in terms of what we are dealing with in terms of this violent extremism starting to move down into our part of the world, into the Asia Pacific.”

Islamic terrorism needs to be confronted and the terrorists put in the ground. Mark Mitchell is the right minister to have making decisions; he’s had his boots on the ground fighting terrorists from Iraq to Somalia, to South Sudan, to Kuwait. He’s even confronted some of them face to face.

“If we were to get a request from a partner to take up a patrol or a tasking that wasn’t inside our operational orders right now then I would take that up to Cabinet or the PM and get authority for that.”

He said he was having a closer look at the Asia Pacific region.

“We have seen Abu Sayyaf who have become very active down in Mindanao and took control of Mindanao and we are seeing a lot more activity from these Islamic extremist groups.”

He said the planning and focus was on “what we can do and how we can support and participate in making sure that this threat that is starting to emerge in the Asia Pacific region with violent extremism – how do we contribute, where does our role lie in that?”

“That is a body of work that is ongoing and happening at the moment.”

Currently about 500 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are serving in 15 operations overseas, including 180 sailors on Te Kaha and about 230 in the Middle East where New Zealand and Australia are jointly training Iraqi forces to fight Isis.

The opposition would have us sit on our hands, and even key elements of our Defence Forces neutered. Ever since Helen Clark uttered those fateful words that we existed in a benign strategic environment, NZ has been fighting terrorism and now it looks like we will be fighting it on our door-step, once again, in South East Asia. It would nice if we could let our troops fight properly this time around, without politicians tying their hands behind their backs.


-NZ Herald

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