Defence Minister confident in fight against ISIS

National Party candidate for Pakuranga Simeon Brown (L) and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell. Times photo Kelly Teed

The recent terror attacks in the UK have left many on tenterhooks and wondering just who will be next. As news emerged that ISIS had claimed responsibility for a hostage incident in Melbourne on Monday night, it may feel slightly too close to home for some in New Zealand.

However Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says we shouldn’t let fear affect how we live our lives.

Mr Mitchell, who was in the area to campaign alongside National Party candidate for Pakuranga Simeon Brown, recently returned from the Defeat ISIS Conference in Copenhagen where he met with fellow Defence Ministers from 12 nations in the Global Coalition to defeat the extremist group.

Speaking to the Times at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Mr Mitchell said New Zealand had “outstanding security services” and that our defence forces were doing a “tremendous job in Iraq” as part of the wider coalition taking the war to ISIS.
“I’d hate to see us change our lives because we’re worried about what’s happening with ISIS.”

However, he acknowledged we are not immune to such attacks and New Zealand plays an important role in the fight.

“One thing we do acknowledge is this is a global issue, and although we’re a small country we trade with the rest of the world, kiwis love travel and there’s kiwis living in all parts of the world so we should have commitment to taking this problem further and try to fix it as part of this wider coalition,” he said.

The Minister is confident in the progress New Zealand troops are making overseas — he says troops in Taji on a joint mission with Australia have trained 22,000 Iraqi security forces and helped liberate around 60,000sqkm of territory.

But he knows the fight’s not over.

“It’s going to take continued commitment and resolve to make sure that we destroy ISIS.”