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Third rotation of NZ Troops to serve in East Timor

4 September 2000 Media Statement

Third rotation of New Zealand Troops to serve in East Timor

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has confirmed that a third rotation of New Zealand Defence Force personnel will serve under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

The 2nd/1st Battalion RNZIR Group which is currently in East Timor will be replaced in November with troops from the third New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 3) under the command of Lt Colonel Dave Gawn.

The battalion will serve alongside the Air Force No.3 Squadron Iroquois helicopter detachment in East Timor.

Based on the 16th Field Regiment, the third New Zealand Battalion group will comprise 500 Regular Force (full-time) and around 100 Territorial Force (part-time) soldiers drawn from all over the North Island who have volunteered to be part of NZBatt 3.

"NZBatt 3 will serve in East Timor until late May 2001. This will take New Zealand beyond the original deployment period of March next year," Mark Burton said.

"A decision on any further New Zealand troop deployments to East Timor will be kept under constant review, and will be made by the Government closer to the end of the current commitment, taking into account the existing security situation in East Timor.

"It is important to note that New Zealand's contribution of personnel is proportionally greater than any other nation involved in the East Timor peacekeeping mission."

Mr Burton congratulated the current New Zealand Defence Force contingent in East Timor for their professionalism in the face of an increased level of militia activity.

"The tragic death of Private Leonard Manning near the border in late July highlights the difficult environment the New Zealand battalion is operating in.

"In any multi-national operation, there will be a variety of conditions and allowances, but I fully understand the reported concerns of some personnel over their conditions of service in East Timor.

"The Government is not ignoring these concerns. The daily allowance for the New Zealand Defence Force personnel has been doubled and the tours of duty have been reduced from 9 months to 6 months. We are also conducting a full review of pay and conditions for all Defence Force personnel, with particular emphasis on the lower ranks.

"New Zealanders are proud of the service given by our young men and women in East Timor, and I am sure that despite the hardships, our defence personnel are proud to be representing their country in such a distinguished manner," Mark Burton said.


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