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NZ troops return from Iraq mission

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017

About 100 New Zealand Defence Force troops who have returned home from Iraq are confident their training mission will have an enduring impact.

The Senior National Officer of the fourth rotation of NZDF troops in Camp Taji says it was rewarding to see first-hand the positive effects they had achieved.

"The Iraqi forces are better prepared, more likely to succeed and have a greater chance of surviving because of the training we have helped deliver," said the officer, not named for security reasons.

He said many of the Iraqi forces trained by Task Group Taji, the combined New Zealand-Australia training force, were sent to the frontlines in Mosul as soon as they had completed the six-week programme.

Some were working to ensure that areas retaken from Islamic State in east Mosul remained under the control of the Iraqi military, while others were involved in the battle for the western part of the city.

The fourth rotation, which returned on Wednesday night, was deployed in November and trained about 7500 troops, as well as police, border guards and special forces rangers.

Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the Iraqi military's ability to keep the peace would be the true measure of the Anzac training mission.

"The index of training effectiveness is not how many Iraqi forces we train, but how well the trainees have absorbed the training and put it to good use," he said.

"Even with the imminent defeat of ISIS, Iraqi forces need to consolidate their foothold in what used to be ISIS heartlands."

A fifth rotation of New Zealand troops left for Iraq in May.

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