Prime Minister John Key has returned from a three day secret mission trip to Taji Camp in Iraq, where he witnessed some of the NZ troops training with Australia. Key described the camp, which is 25 kilometres north-west of Baghdad, as ‘goddamm awful’ and ‘desolate’ as Troops rough it out in such a war stricken country.
The New Zealand troops in Iraq are training Iraqi security forces as they attempt to fight against Daesh, or Islamic State (IS). The New Zealand troops work alongside Australian personal and all up there is around 16 NZ trainers/logistical support members and 140 personnel in Baghdad.
Mr Key’s trip was conducted in secret due to security concerns. He is the first prime minister to visit troops in the Taji Camp, which is surrounded by pockets of IS activity. A large group of SAS soldiers provided intense security protection for Mr Key and the delegation for the duration of his visit.
The New Zealand deployment within Iraq has been given a specific deadline of two years, and Mr Key said he had no intention to extend it out any further. At the conclusion of his trip Key was reported saying how “harsh it is (Iraq)” and how the New Zealand troops “have had to work very hard to put together a tremendous system- everything from logistics to the medical team”.