Defense Secretary Ashton Carter hailed the agreements of New Zealand and Poland to extend and bolster their roles in the anti-ISIS coalition’s efforts to expel the terror group from Iraq.
“Expanding the resources dedicated to the fight allows us to further accelerate the campaign” to inflict a lasting defeat on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Carter said in a statement Monday.
New Zealand had been scheduled to withdraw its 143 trainers from Iraq next year, but New Zealand Prime Minister John Key agreed to keep them at Camp Taji north of Baghdad at least through November 2018.
The Kiwi troops will also provide additional training at Besmaya south of Baghdad. Key stressed that all of the New Zealand trainers will operate “behind the wire.”
Carter also praised an earlier decision by New Zealand to deploy a C-130 Hercules and up to 40 personnel to support coalition operations. New Zealand also has pledged $1 million in stabilization funding for Iraq.
Poland announced that it will deploy 60 special operations forces to Iraq as trainers and advisers, along with four F-16s to Kuwait for reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria. Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said about 150 support personnel will accompany the F-16s in Kuwait.
“I am grateful for the meaningful action of the Polish government following the meetings last week (of NATO defense ministers in Brussels), and for the commitment from the Polish people to this fight,” Carter said.
Carter was expected to ask for more in the way of troops and funding from coalition members and NATO allies at the NATO summit in Wroclaw, Poland, on July 8-9. The summit will focus mostly on deterring Russia in Europe, but Carter will be seeking more support for the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and for the stabilization of Afghanistan.