NZ troops to be withdrawn from Iraq

Beehive:  New Zealand to withdraw from Iraq in June 2020:

New Zealand will conclude its non-combat Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji Military Complex in Iraq in June 2020, when full responsibility for basic training will be handed over to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced today.

New Zealand currently deploys up to 95 personnel to the BPC at Taji. Following recent Cabinet decisions this will reduce to a maximum of 75 from July 2019 and 45 from January 2020, before the mission’s completion by June 2020.

New Zealand and Australia have been jointly delivering training to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) at Taji since 2015, when New Zealand first deployed to Iraq as part of the multinational Defeat-ISIS Coalition. Over 44,000 ISF personnel have been trained at Taji since 2015.

“Four years ago New Zealand made a commitment to the Iraqi Government and to the Coalition to train the ISF at Taji and lift their capability to defeat and prevent the resurgence of ISIS. Over the next 12 months, New Zealand will be able to wind down and conclude that commitment,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The New Zealand and Australian troops at Taji have worked hard, not only to provide training, but also to ensure that the ISF are well placed to take over this commitment at Taji in the near future. The goal of any training mission is to ensure that it becomes a sustainable programme.”

“Significant progress has been made in this area, which will allow the mission to reduce in numbers and conclude within the next year, having successfully achieved what we went in to do. This is an encouraging evolution and a success not only for us but also for the ISF personnel who have trained hard to gain the skills to become a modern military force,” said Ron Mark.

Alongside the deployment to Taji, the New Zealand Defence Force will continue in a reduced number of support roles within the Defeat-ISIS Coalition in the region. Cabinet will consider these positions again by next June.

New Zealand will however increase its stabilisation funding contribution to Iraq to approximately NZ$3 million per annum for the next three years (from NZ$2.4m in 2018-19) to help affected communities recover and rebuild following the conflict with ISIS.

Stabilisation funding will come from within MFAT’s overseas aid and development fund, and will contribute to what has been estimated to be a US$87 billion rebuild of Iraq.

“Despite its territorial defeat in Iraq in December 2017 and Syria in March 2019, it is clear that ISIS remains a threat and Iraq requires ongoing international support as it moves towards recovery and stabilisation,” said Winston Peters.

“As large numbers of Iraqi people return home and begin to rebuild their lives and communities, New Zealand’s targeted funding support can make a meaningful contribution towards this.”

National have sort of supported this – with a catch.

RNZ: National supports troop withdrawal – if partners do same

The National Party is on board with the government pulling Kiwi troops out of Iraq next year – on the condition Australia and the United States also withdraw.

National Party defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the decision to leave was the right one, providing everyone went at the same time.

“It looks okay with us, it would be dependent on whether it’s in line with what our partners are doing – especially the Americans and the Australians,” he said.

Australia is yet to make a formal announcement but Mr Mark told media yesterday the New Zealand decision was part of a carefully planned exit strategy alongside partners.

“We took a role of about a third/two-thirds contribution in partnership with Australia. This reduces down to a quarter/three-quarters and we will be downsizing alongside them and working with them, not just walking away from the mission,” Mr Mark said.

In a statement Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Australia and New Zealand “consult closely on their respective deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

“Australia is proud to support the Iraqi Security Forces, alongside its New Zealand counterparts. We will continue to work closely with New Zealand as it gradually draws down its footprint in Iraq,” she said.

“Australia regularly reviews its overseas operations, taking into account the needs of the Iraqi Government and the operational context on the ground.”

Whether National backs the withdrawal probably won’t make any difference, as the drawdown will have largely happened by next year’s election.

I doubt there is much public support for staying in Iraq, and there will be much stronger support for a withdrawal.


Leave a comment


  1. Seems like a good decision to me.

  2. Blazer

     /  11th June 2019

    Iraq is a wasteland for Iraquis and has been a profit centre for western countries and mercenaries like Mark Mitchell…thanks Bush and Blair=Murder Inc.

    • Duker

       /  11th June 2019

      mercenary ? That part has been whitewashed from his bio, as he now says he was a ‘conflict negotiator’ and ‘international business man’ – its the US style of starting a company to offer shares to managers !!
      Hager is bound to be doing a book on NZs mercenaries in Iraq , including Mitchell

  3. NOEL

     /  11th June 2019

    Labour went through their lessons learned book?
    Last time they ordered a drawdown the instruction was nothing to be given to the side we were supporting. When the only option for the troops in the field was laying equipment down in front of a bulldozer the end result was a lot of former friendly fire heading their way that night.

    • Duker

       /  11th June 2019

      What are you talking about – ? Places , times please

    • NOEL

       /  11th June 2019

      The classic was the order to drive the vehicles down to Saigon and put them up for tender and not just hand them over to the ARVN.
      A reply was sent to Wellington to the effect that he would have difficultly convincing the Americans to provide three companies to remove the NVA forces occupying the road.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  11th June 2019

        Someone on YNZ tried to tell us that the Viet Cong opened goats, put bombs in them and sent them on their merry way…I see that ISIS is supposedly doing this with chooks, but I am sceptical.

        • harryk

           /  12th June 2019

          ‘but I am sceptical’

          And I’ve heard that the last NZ ISIS bride in Syria has surrendered to a sheepdog. Someone told me Winston Peters told that one to Erdogan as they sucked on Turkish Delights but I remain sceptical …

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  12th June 2019

            The problem with the goatbombs would be that it would be impossible to instruct Billy to go to the right place. ‘No, Billy, no ! Run THAT way, away from me, not TOWARDS me !’

            It would be more trouble than it was worth, I would imagine. Why not just do it the old-fashioned way ?

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  12th June 2019

            In a poor country like Viet Nam, it’s hard to imagine anyone wasting a goat and not using it as meat even if they didn’t want it for milk or breeding.


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