The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has completed its deployments to the United States-led Defeat ISIS Coalition’s military operation, Operation Inherent Resolve.
The last two personnel serving in Iraq returned to New Zealand late last month.
The Government announced in August last year that, following the depletion of ISIS as a fighting force, New Zealand would withdraw its military contribution and refocus towards civilian-led efforts including stabilisation funding and countering online communications operations by ISIS.
The Defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Coalition was established in 2014 and involved 86 countries, more than 30 of which contributed to the Coalition’s military operation.
The NZDF’s initial deployments took place in 2015 following requests by the Iraqi Government for assistance to counter ISIS.
NZDF personnel deployed to the joint Australia-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity mission at Taji Military Camp in Iraq, where they trained Iraqi security forces.
Personnel also supported Coalition efforts to counter ISIS, and were based in Baghdad, Kuwait and Qatar under the NZDF’s Operation Mohua.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said in total 113 NZDF personnel deployed on Operation Mohua.
“Over the years we have been involved, NZDF personnel have made a valuable contribution, supporting the Coalition’s efforts to equip Iraqi Security Forces and degrade ISIS,” he said.
“The work of our personnel has been appreciated by our multinational partners.’’
Operation Mohua personnel have held a variety of roles including in planning, logistics, intelligence, and legal functions.
The last two NZDF staff were based at the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters in Iraq.
Senior National Officer Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Williamson said New Zealand had played a critical role in the long-term achievement of Operation Inherent Resolve’s aims.
“Day-to-day this involved assessment of the Iraqi Security Forces’ development and facilitating the procurement of equipment to generate and sustain their capabilities, amongst other tasks,’’ he said.
Saluting the New Zealand flag as it lowered for the last time brought with it a range of emotions, he said.
“The Iraqi Security Forces and the many contributing nations to Operation Inherent Resolve have always shown genuine appreciation for New Zealand’s contribution over the years.
“We are incredibly proud to have served as the last two New Zealand personnel deployed in Iraq.”