Key is recently back from visiting troops at the Taji base in Iraq (you’ve probably seen the pictures). Credit to him for going, like Helen Clark’s trip to Afghanistan, I think it is fitting that someone who decides to send troops to a dangerous environment fronts up there personally. And you can’t blame him for making a media circus of it, that’s politics.
However this report, which came out shortly before Key’s visit, raises some issues:
Serious problems at Taji military base in Iraq – US report
Incomplete equipment and substandard living conditions for trainees are among the problems dogging an Iraqi military base visited by Prime Minister John Key, a critical American report says.
The report, released before Key’s visit and which assesses efforts by US and coalition forces to train Iraqi soldiers, said equipment provided by American forces to Iraqi army brigades training at sites like Taji would at times arrive incomplete, meaning it was “not fully mission-capable”.
At Taji, soldiers were living inside schools run by Iraqi security forces with water and power that was not turned on due to supposed funding issues. …
Read the article for more details – it sounds like Taji is a fiasco. Does Key know? Does he care? When questioned it seems that, as usual, Key is conveniently ignorant:
John Key unaware of Defence report on Taji camp
Prime Minister John Key said he was not aware of a US Defense report which raised concerns about the equipment and conditions at the Taji Military Camp before he visited Iraq last week.
New Zealand trainers were among those the team had spoken to. The report said that the trainers had raised concerns about the living conditions for the Iraqi soldiers, saying the water and power were not on and it was distracting trainees from their work.
“As a result the trainees’ poor living conditions have had a significant effect on soldiers’ morale.”
Key should have known about this report, and should be fully and honestly briefed on the conditions at the camp where he has sent NZ troops. It’s just too cute for him to play the ignorance card yet again.
Key says he didn't know about /hasn't seen US report on Taji. Tetchy exchange with reporter.
— Andrea Vance (@avancenz) October 12, 2015
Remember that time, maybe 100 hours or so ago, when he was saying how intimately he was following the deployment https://t.co/4Lu4MK0Opy
— Alex Coleman (@ShakingStick) October 12, 2015