Iraqi army

Opposition cheer leaders say that Little and Labour are wrong over Iraq deployment

The NZ Herald has become a left-wing rag in the past decade. They’ve run hit job after hit job on anyone and everyone who is right of centre.

But today, bless, they basically told Labour they are wrong to want to pull out of Iraq.

The Government’s decision to extend the service of New Zealand soldiers in Iraq beyond next February’s deadline is the right one, even though the Prime Minister had previously indicated the troops were on two-year deployment due to end next May. The extension means 143 men and women from the Defence Force will be rotated through Iraq until November 2018.

It is a significant commitment, and was forecast to cost about $57 million by the time it was due to wind up next year. The longer stay will probably double the bill. A heavily-censored review of the deployment considered by the Cabinet in March said the work undertaken by New Zealand Defence Force personnel had been successful.

Since May last year, NZDF soldiers at the Taji Military Base near Baghdad, where they work with Australian forces, had trained some 4000 Iraqi troops. Instruction included weapons training, conflict first aid, human rights and planning for combat operations. Three junior leadership courses were completed and Iraqi medics attended a six-day course.

The review said the military training was having a “tangible and positive impact” on the ability of Iraqi Army units to wage war against the Islamic State or Isis. Groups which had completed training performed better than those which had not been through a programme.   Read more »

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As predicted, Andrew Little grandstands over Iraq deployment

First, Andrew Little was against the Iraq deployment:

In his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour could see no case for sending troops to Iraq.

He said it was clear Islamic State was brutal. “There wouldn’t be a New Zealander who has seen those images whose stomachs have not been turned. But let’s be clear what we’re dealing with. They call themselves, Islamic State, but they are not a state. They run across borders, they are cultural, ethnic, religious and driven by a number of motivations.”

He said it was a “depository of the dispossessed, the extreme and yes, the evil, but it is not a conventional enemy”.

Mr Little said it was clear the Government had made its decision some time ago “and I venture to suggest it was taken for a range of reasons that have not been outlined today.”

He doubted Mr Key’s assurances the training forces would be “behind the wire”. He said there was little doubt the troops would be exposed to the wider combat and there was little to gain.

“After 10 years of training of the Iraq Army by the US Army, what impact will we have? What can we hope to achieve? We think be sending a very modest force, we are going to achieve what the US Army has not been able to achieve in 10 years? We will not fix the Iraqi Army. It is broken, it is corrupt.”

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NZDF committed for another 18 months. That’s a lot of “training” then

Good, we need to stay on mission and continue training Iraqi troops so they can go put the bad wogs from Daesh in deep holes in the ground.

Kiwi troops will be extending their mission in Iraq by 18 months and will also be leaving their base for another on occasion, the Defence Minister has announced.

Prime Minister John Key, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully made the announcement at the post-Cabinet news conference on Monday afternoon.

Among the changes, it was announced a small number of around six or eight at a time will travel “for short periods” to Besmaya — another secure training location 52km southeast of the existing joint New Zealand-Australia base.

“At Besmaya our troops will ensure a smooth handover of the Iraqi soldiers they’ve been training at Taji to other coalition trainers, who will be teaching them to use heavy weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.   Read more »

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Kiwi-trained troops helped liberate Ramadi from Daesh

Gerry Brownlee is chuffed  – our troops helped to train the Iraqi soldiers who took Ramadi off Daesh.

Iraqi troops trained by New Zealand soldiers were among those who took the city of Ramadi from Islamic State, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

Victory in Ramadi, which was seized by IS in May, is the first major triumph for Iraq’s mainly US-trained army since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the hardline Sunni militants 18 months ago.

The city, 130km west of Baghdad, was taken earlier this week.

“The success of these troops results from their commitment to the training programme they have been involved in. New Zealand and Australian trainers can take some pride over the successful action by the recruits,” Mr Brownlee said on Thursday.   Read more »

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Brownlee MIA when it comes to NZSAS

Gerry Brownlee in Iraq

DEFENCE MINISTER Gerry Brownlee hasn’t made a single visit to the Army’s special unit forces base at Papakura since being appointed to the role nearly a year ago.

It’s an astonishing revelation, according to Labour’s defence spokesman Phil Goff, who says he would have thought a visit to the Papakura military camp would have been top of Brownlee’s priority list given the NZSAS were the premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The NZSAS was accorded Regimental status in 2013 and presently has the responsibility of conducting domestic Counter-Terrorism operations, overseas Special Operations missions and performing the disposal of chemical, biological, radioactive and improvised explosive devices for both the military and civilian authorities.

But it appears Brownlee, who was appointed Defence Minister in October last year, has little interest in any of the work being carried out here.    Read more »

Bizarre rant from Armstrong on Iraq deployment

I’m getting a bit sick of John Armstrong and his prognostications on defence matters.

New Zealand’s 100-plus contingent of military training specialists plus support personnel have barely arrived in Iraq. Yet the folly of this military (mis)adventure is already rapidly becoming apparent.

Last week’s fall of the city of Ramadi after Iraqi forces capitulated to Islamic State fighters, despite heavily outnumbering their enemy, has shifted the front-line in this sectarian struggle worryingly close to Taji, the huge military camp within which the New Zealanders are based alongside Australian counterparts.

Unless the Isis (Islamic State) advance is halted, the New Zealand Government is going to be faced with a major dilemma at some point in the not-too-distant future: pull the training team out of Iraq and lose face, plus earn black marks from the Americans and the Australians; or stick it out for the sake of good form and loyalty to allies and gamble on things not deteriorating with the risks this brings, including the possibility of casualties.

National’s predicament was neatly summed up by New Zealand First MP and former Army officer Ron Mark in an entry on his Facebook page last Friday.

“Latest update from the US on Isis. Taji is only 91km from Ramadi. The same distance I drive from Carterton to Wellington to attend Parliament. Isis could be in artillery range of our troops in 30 minutes.” He added a question for Mr Key: “What’s our plan, John?”

I’m not sure listening to a former truck mechanic on military matters is wise.  Read more »

Whale Week What Was

682zoomWe started our Saturday by paying our respects to Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., the hard-charging US Army general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War.  He died aged 78.  At The Standard 2012 Worst Political Blog Mike Smith is told some home truths about long term grass-roots Labour families heading for the Greens.  A quick vid on how to put out a boat fire the Kiwi way is next, followed by a vote for Best Minister.  The winner, at 52%, is Judith Collins.  The Whale Week That Was summarised all the stories this blog covered in the previous seven days.  A quite active Saturday Debate (for the time of year especially) led a post calling for nominations for Best Political Blog.  Those who see WOBH as any sort of threat to them (and those that don’t too), should take heed of this Malcolm Tucker quote: “marshal all the media forces of Darkness to hound them to an assisted suicide”.  A CNN piece showing Teachers in Utah taking a class on gun use shows some common sense around the gun debate.  A reader has taken yesterday’s US Fiscal Cliff graphic and created one for New Zealand – great work.  As Cameron Slater predicted from the outset, the Aussie Hoax DJs will not face charges.  The NZ Herald continues to amuse – this time a car crashed into a poll.  The blog then introduces us to two sexy taxidermists showing you don’t have to look like a front row forward to deal with dead animals.  And you’d think we’re picking on an incompetent NZ Herald, and you would be right.  This time they have Jesse Ryder beating himself at Eden Park in Wellington.  Then a hilarious story about a Queensland woman who fell into the longdrop and was there for two hours before being discovered by her husband.   Turns out that during the Falklands War the French tried to send missiles to Argentinia behind Margaret Thatcher‘s back.  Commerce first eh?  The last post of the day highlights a report of a man holding up a Countdown Supermarket with a hammer.  Our readers get fired up about the idea of hammer banning.

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