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Minister farewells first deployment to Solomons

Minister farewells first deployment to Solomons

Minister of Defence Mark Burton today farewelled the first group of NZDF personnel deploying to the Solomon Islands.

The group includes the New Zealand Senior National Officer, Wing Commander Shaun Clarke and Wing Commander Ron Thacker, Air Component Commander for the operation, as well as other headquarters elements such as intelligence, communications, medical, logistics, operations, and Air Security and maintenance personnel. In addressing the deploying personnel, Mark Burton said that the current situation in the Solomon Islands was of concern to the entire Pacific region.

“The collapse of law and order has led to significant loss of life, destruction of homes, and the displacement of many families. The machinery of government is failing and the provision of even the most basic services is at risk.

“You will play a key role, not only in supporting the police as they restore law and order, but also in facilitating civil and humanitarian assistance, providing helicopter transport, engineers for refurbishment of facilities, and medical staff who will work to help re-establish community level medical support.

“Our NZDF personnel are already well versed in working in such diverse situations as the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Bougainville, and Timor Leste. New Zealand has an international reputation for excellence, for their calm, cooperative style, gained by working alongside many different forces from around the world in deployments such as these.

“New Zealand’s service men and women have an international reputation for excellence, and I have every confidence in your ability to successfully undertake this demanding task. I am confident that the personnel we farewell today, as well as those who will deploy over the next week, are all world-class personnel who will all acquit themselves with honour and distinction, whatever the challenges,” said Mark Burton.

The personnel departed from Ohakea on a C130 Hercules, which will land in Townsville, Australia later today. The NZDF personnel, along with the first contingents from Australia and other Pacific countries, will be farewelled on Thursday by Prime Minister Helen Clark and the Prime Ministers of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. The Pacific Forum Secretary General will also be in attendance.

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