Kiwi troops headed for war zone

Militants attacked a natural gas plant near a military camp in Iraq used by New Zealand and Australian troops.
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Militants attacked a natural gas plant near a military camp in Iraq used by New Zealand and Australian troops.

Up to 40 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are headed for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joint forces commander Major General Tim Gall said a C-130 Hercules would go as part of an Australian Defence Force joint task force to transport freight and personnel primarily to Iraq and Afghanistan from June to December.

The push comes after coalition allies in Iraq were asked to do more, including a request by US defence chief Ash Carter last December for elite troops, air strikes, and the provision of ammunition and training.

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New Zealand troops based at Iraq's Camp Taji have been providing training to Iraqi forces but the Government has previously ruled out deploying our elite SAS troops.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed on Friday the SAS were not part of the latest deployment, which included engineers, air crew and support personnel.

Gall said New Zealand missions in the Middle East supported the international community's resolve to preserve security and stability in the region.

“The operation also seeks to improve cooperation and enhance our ability to work alongside Australia and our coalition partners," Gall said.

"We work with the ADF, the United States and other partners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the world and this deployment marks our latest contribution,” he said.

A detachment of personnel from the RNZAF’s 40 Squadron and the wider NZDF previously deployed to the Middle East last October, where they conducted airlift tasks in support of coalition operations in the region.

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"A number of night vision goggle flights were conducted as part of that month-long mission, including support for Prime Minister John Key’s visit to New Zealand troops in Iraq’s Camp Taji."

 - Stuff

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