The fall of Ramadi and the collapse of the Iraqi Army proves Labour was right to be concerned about the deployment of our troops to Iraq, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.
“The fall of Ramadi brings IS fighters within striking distance of Taji camp where New Zealand soldiers are based just 100km away.
“There are now risks of not only rocket and artillery assaults on the base using captured United States equipment, but the camp being surrounded.
“John Key has said the Government’s support for deployment will change if there is an ‘absolute threat’ to our soldiers?
“However, the Prime Minister refuses to define what that means and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee refuses to disclose the threat level they are facing.
“Putting soldiers in harm’s way can’t be justified unless there is a clear need and benefits from doing so.
“The Iraqi soldiers’ lack of will to fight is due to poor leadership and corruption so extensive they often don’t get equipment and supplies.
“Dealing with these key problems are outside the ability of our troops. Even the Government’s consistent supporters for deploying troops – such as Ron Smith of Waikato University – have now reversed their stance.
“Restraints on what Kiwi soldiers can do and the growing threats they face make the price of being ‘in the club’ too high,” Phil Goff says.