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Air force leaves for Operation Enduring Freedom

Air force contingent leaves for Operation Enduring Freedom

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Mark Burton today farewelled a contingent of 37 RNZAF personnel who are joining Operation Enduring Freedom in Central Asia.

The contingent of aircrew, logistics, communications, medical, and support staff left the Whenuapai air base in a C130 Hercules aircraft, and will spend the next three months based in Kyrgyzstan.

The RNZAF 40 Squadron contingent will use the Hercules to transport personnel, equipment, and supplies from Kyrgyzstan to airfields in Afghanistan, including Kabul, Bagram, Khandahar, and outlying areas.

Helen Clark and Mark Burton said that the government and people of New Zealand were proud of the New Zealand Defence Force’s involvement with Operation Enduring Freedom, but that the task was far from complete.

“The campaign against the terrorist groups which have launched attacks in different parts of the world remains a major international security issue.

“New Zealand has been continuously involved in this campaign since late 2001. This deployment recognises the need for New Zealand to continue working closely with others globally to counter that threat. New Zealand’s service men and women have always had a proud tradition, and their role in OEF will add to the NZDF’s international reputation.

“No responsible government takes lightly the decision to commit itsmen and women to military activity of any kind overseas. The contingent leaving today can take pride in the work they will be doing to make the world a safer place.

“New Zealand’s RNZAF 40 Squadron has already undertaken 10 OEF missions, including tactical air transport support to forces within Afghanistan. I am confident that we are sending world class personnel who will acquit themselves with honour and distinction,” Helen Clark and Mark Burton said.

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