21 Apr 2015

NZ troops depart ahead of Iraq deployment

1:48 pm on 21 April 2015

The Defence Force says the main deployment of New Zealand soldiers has left for Australia today, ahead of their training mission to Iraq.

The New Zealand troops leave for Australia.

The New Zealand troops leave for Australia. Photo: Supplied / NZ Defence Force

However, it said for security reasons it would not be announcing when they leave Australia for Iraq.

143 New Zealand soldiers would be part of a joint Australia New Zealand mission, to train Iraqi security forces.

A contingent of Australian troops would be farewelled from Brisbane today.

The Defence Force said no New Zealand soldiers would be part of that contingent.

The New Zealand Government had been criticised for its secrecy about troop deployments, particularly when the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has been much more open about the movement of Australian soldiers.

Prime Minister John Key said he was acting on the advice of the Defence Force.

New Zealand troops leave for Australia

Photo: Supplied / NZ Defence Force

The Defence Force said it was maintaining operational security to ensure the safety of the troops.

And it said their identities would not be made public for the protection of the soldiers themselves and their families.