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New Zealand extends commitment in Afghanistan

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Hon Mark Burton
Minister of Defence
Hon George Hawkins
Minister of Police

25 January 2005 Media Statement

New Zealand extends commitment in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today extensions of New Zealand Defence Force deployments in Afghanistan, and for the first time, the deployment of New Zealand Police to Bamyan to help rebuild the local police force.

"The deployment of the 120-strong New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan Province will be extended for a further 12 months to September 2006. In addition, two police officers will be deployed to assist with the training of Afghani police officers in Bamyan," Helen Clark said.

"The New Zealand police will be based at the Bamyan Regional Police Training Centre, one of seven such regional centres. The UK, Germany, and the US are also involved with operating regional police training centres.

"New Zealand has also deployed a Military Liaison Officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission for one year. This officer is playing a valuable role as a strategic interface between the multinational forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities.

“New Zealand is making a difference in restoring stability to Afghanistan. The New Zealand PRT played an important role in promoting enrolment and participation in last year's presidential elections.

"Now, parliamentary and provincial elections are scheduled for April 2005. This is the next major step in Afghanistan’s progress towards full democratic government. Improving security helps ensure that the elections are fair and credible.

"Failure to stabilise Afghanistan would have consequences for the campaign against terrorism. The Taliban and elements sympathetic to Al Qaeda continue to provide resistance to the Afghan authorities and to the multinational force mandated by the United Nations," Helen Clark said.

The new and extended deployments are as follows:

- The Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan consisting of about 120 NZDF personnel. The PRT has been extended through until September 2006.
- Two non-commissioned officers assisting with the training of the Afghan National Army. This deployment has been extended until 31 December 2005.
- Two New Zealand Police officers to assist with the training of Afghan police officers in Bamyan. These officers will be deployed from March 2005 until the end of 2005.
- Four NZDF officers with the International Security Assistance Force till 31 December 2005. The ISAF supports the Afghan Transitional Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan.
- Two NZDF personnel are also deployed in multinational force operational headquarters till 31 December 2005. This includes one officer in the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan in Kabul and one officer with the Coalition Joint Task Force in Bagram.
- One NZDF Military Liaison Officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission for one year. This officer is playing a valuable role as a strategic interface between the multinational forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities.

The total cost of these New Zealand Defence Force deployments from January 1 2005 to the end of the PRT deployment in September 2006 is just over $34 million.

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton said over the past year, the New Zealand-led PRT has made a significant contribution to the stabilisation and reconstruction of Bamyan Province.

“It provided a reassuring security presence during the Presidential elections, resulting in a particularly high voter turnout, including of women, in Bamyan. In addition the PRT, working with NZAID, has supported a number of development projects,” Mr Burton said.

The Minister of Police George Hawkins said the establishment of an effective police force in Afghanistan is a critical element in the restoration of law and order.

"Following years of conflict, it is important that help is given to Afghanistan to establish a well-trained, professional police force under central authority.

"The two officers will be deployed in March, with the mission lasting about nine months, at a cost of $300,000. The cost of the police deployment will be met by NZAID," said Mr Hawkins.

Mr Burton acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan still poses a security challenge.

“But I have confidence in the professionalism and expertise of our personnel. They have already earned great respect for their contributions to stability in Afghanistan. New Zealand’s PRT in Bamyan has received high praise from within Afghanistan and from other countries for its work,” Mr Burton said.


NEW ZEALAND DEPLOYMENTS TO AFGHANISTAN

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What deployments does New Zealand have in Afghanistan?

· The Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan consisting of about 120 NZDF personnel. The PRT has been extended through until September 2006.
· Two non-commissioned officers assisting with the training of the Afghan National Army. This deployment has been extended until 31 December 2005.
· Two New Zealand Police officers to assist the training of Afghan police officers in Bamyan. These officers will be deployed from March 2005 until the end of 2005.
· Four NZDF officers with the International Security Assistance Force. The International Security Assistance Force supports the Afghan Transitional Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan.
· Two NZDF personnel are also deployed in multinational force operational headquarters. This includes one officer in the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan in Kabul and one officer with the Coalition Joint Task Force in Bagram.
· One NZDF Military Liaison Officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission. This officer is playing a valuable role as a strategic interface between the multinational forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities.
Why is New Zealand maintaining a presence in Afghanistan?

New Zealand’s deployments in Afghanistan reflect our support for stability and reconstruction there – and recognition that a failure to stabilise Afghanistan would have consequences for the global campaign against terrorism. These commitments are in accordance with a series of UN Security Council Resolutions, and our support for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Taliban and elements sympathetic to Al Qaeda continue to provide resistance to the Afghan authorities and the multinational force, particularly in the south and south east of Afghanistan and along the border with Pakistan. At the same time, the competing interests of the warlords (and lack of disarmament) in the northern and western provinces, as well as the growing influence of opium production and trade, continue to impede the establishment of strong central government and longer term nation building objectives.

It is important, particularly at this critical juncture of Afghanistan’s progression towards a fully representative government (parliamentary and provincial elections are scheduled for April 2005), that the international community maintain its involvement.

New Zealand is helping the Afghan Transitional Authority to extend its influence beyond Kabul by promoting stability through the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province. New Zealand is also supporting security sector reform (including the development of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Police Force) as well as the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force.

Can we sustain this deployment in light of our commitments to the Tsunami hit regions?

The Chief of Defence Force is confident that we can continue to sustain all of our deployments, including this one in Afghanistan, and continue to provide the assistance needed in the Tsunami hit areas.

All deployments are under regular review to ensure their relevance and sustainability.

THE PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAM

What is a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)?

Provincial Reconstruction Teams are tasked with assisting the Afghan Transitional Authority to extend its influence beyond Kabul through confidence building measures. Their focus is on enhancing the security environment and promoting the reconstruction effort. PRTs provide a strengthened military observer capacity, monitoring and assessing civil, political, and military reform efforts through community engagement. In addition, they may also act as liaisons for Non-government Organisations and other civilian organisations.

Who is running the other PRTs in Afghanistan?

The US has responsibility for around 12 PRTs in the west, south and east provinces. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is centred on Kabul and has taken over responsibility for five PRTs in the Northern provinces, with lead teams from the UK, Germany and others.

What sorts of tasks is the NZ PRT undertaking?

New Zealand took over command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan (about 200 km north west of Kabul) in September 2003. The New Zealand-led PRT in Bamyan has four liaison teams, one for each of the four regions within the Bamyan province.

The PRT liaison teams patrol in and around Bamyan town and aim to visit every community in the province on a regular basis. This is a confidence-building measure to help enhance security in the province. The PRT provided a reassuring security presence during the Presidential elections last October. The result was a particularly high voter turnout, including of women, in Bamyan. It is important to continue this support in the lead-up to the crucial parliamentary and provincial elections.

The PRT has supported a number of development projects, funded by NZAID, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and USAID. This has included provision of essential equipment such as radios and vehicles for Bamyan police, reconstruction and furnishings for the Bamyan University, and assistance with furniture and equipment for local government departments. NZAID’s assistance to the PRT includes support for security sector reform and infrastructure projects such as Bailey bridge construction to improve access to the highlands region.

AFGHAN POLICE TRAINING

What is New Zealand’s contribution to Afghan Police training?

Two New Zealand Police officers will be deployed to the Bamyan Police Training Centre from March 2005 through to the end of 2005. The New Zealand Police Officers will work alongside US police at the Bamyan Police Training Centre. NZAID will fund the costs of the deployment, including salary and allowances, from within its allocation for Afghanistan, at a cost of $300,000.

Why is New Zealand assisting in this area?

Support for police training in Bamyan is consistent with the objectives of the PRT and its focus on facilitating the extension of the central government’s authority to the regions of Afghanistan. The establishment of an effective Afghanistan police force is a critical element in the restoration of law and order, protection of human rights and maintenance of security in Afghanistan. It is an important component of much-needed security reform and underlines New Zealand’s commitment to enhancing stability in Afghanistan.

AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY TRAINING – NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

Why is New Zealand assisting in this area?

This deployment represents a long-term investment in the establishment of a professional, disciplined, multi-ethnic army, under the control of the central government and with the capacity to ultimately take responsibility for Afghanistan’s security. It is part of the broader security sector reform effort in Afghanistan that will eventually enable multinational forces to withdraw from the country. The ANA is increasingly making a useful contribution to stability.

How long has this deployment been approved for?

Cabinet has approved an extension to the commitment of two NZDF non-commissioned officers to work with the UK in providing command and leadership training to the Afghan National Army (ANA) until 31 December 2005.

UN ASSISTANCE MISSION – MILITARY LIAISON OFFICER

What is the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)?

UNAMA, led by the French Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Jean Arnault, was established in March 2002 to help integrate all UN activities in Afghanistan, working together with the Afghan Transitional Authority and national and international NGOs to support the transition process.

UNAMA has around 900 civilian officials (including 200 international officials) and a Military Advisory Unit of 12 officers, led by the Senior Military Advisor (Austria), with MLOs from New Zealand, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Canada, Korea, Romania, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Sweden.

The MLOs play a valuable role as an important strategic interface between the multinational forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities. These staff will liaise, and coordinate activities with the Afghanistan Ministry of Defence, the Afghan National Army, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) forces.

Why are we sending a Military Liaison Officer?

New Zealand received a request from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) for the one-year deployment of a Military Liaison Officer to UNAMA. We are supportive of the UN presence in Afghanistan and a New Zealand contribution to UNAMA complements our other military contributions to stability and reconstruction. This officer is now in Afghanistan and has begun work.

What is the current security situation in Afghanistan?

The overall threat assessment for Afghanistan is HIGH. The threat in Kabul, Bagram, and Bamyan is also assessed as HIGH.

What other assistance is New Zealand providing to Afghanistan?

NZAID has allocated NZ$7 million for ongoing reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan for the 2004/05 financial year. This will include support through the PRT for security sector reform and infrastructure projects such as Bailey bridge construction to improve access to the highlands region. NZAID will continue direct support for UN and civilian agencies in human rights and governance reform, in sustainable rural livelihoods programmes, community development and education, including the further rehabilitation of Bamyan University.


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