Already Australia has 200 special forces personnel in Iraq and the ABC has reported that the extra troops will be part of a joint Australia-New Zealand mission to train Iraqi soldiers.
New Zealand PM, John Key, announced yesterday (Feb 24) that a deployment of 143 military personnel would be going to Iraq. “This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia although it won’t be badged an ANZAC force.” he said. This non-combat training mission will be sent to Taji Camp, north of Baghdad in Iraq, to help train Iraqi troops fighting Islamic State forces.
As is the case in Australia, the NZ government’s decision to send a military mission overseas does not require the approval of the national parliament.
In early February, after attending Australia-UK ministerial talks in Australia, British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond, visited New Zealand. There he was reported as saying that the Abbott Government was keen to have New Zealand soldiers join a training mission.
The leader of NZ Labor Party, Mr Little, along with the leaders of the Greens, Maori Party, United Future, and NZ First, have all condemned the NZ military deployment.
Opposition has also been expressed in the mainstream media. For example, on February 24, John Armstrong, the Herald’s chief political commentator, in an opinion piece entitled ‘John Key is not winning the debate’, had this to say about PM’s announcement: “The essential problem is with the training role. No one has any confidence it will make even a skerrick of difference to what ultimately happens in Iraq. If that is the case, the deployment becomes nothing more than a manufactured exercise in flag-waving designed to satisfy the Americans, rather than dealing (with) Isis. Surely the days when New Zealand was so compliant and so submissive to Washington’s wishes are long over. But it seems not.” (MPG’s emphasis).
Refer to The New Zealand Herald’s report on PM John Key’s announcement here. For more information on the growing opposition to the NZ governement’s plans to send a military mission to Iraq, refer to the Open Letter on Military Deployment to Iraq here.