New Zealand contributions to Afghanistan
2 June 2005
Further New Zealand contributions to Afghanistan and the international campaign against terrorism
Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Mark Burton today announced the re-deployment of around 50 New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) personnel to Afghanistan for up to 180 days from June this year.
This latest deployment is the third rotation of SAS personnel to Afghanistan as part of New Zealand's ongoing commitment to the international effort against terrorism.
"With parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for September, 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 multi-national force mandated by the United Nations," Helen Clark said.
The NZSAS personnel will be commanded by a New Zealand officer and will specialise in the planning and execution of long-range reconnaissance and direct action missions inside Afghanistan. They will operate with other special forces from countries contributing to coalitions forces in Afghanistan.
The New Zealand Defence Force has contracted with the United States Air Force for two of its C17 military aircraft to transport both personnel and equipment to Afghanistan. They landed at Whenuapai Air Base today.
"This latest deployment and the recently announced extension to the deployment of the 120-strong New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) for a further 12 months to September 2006, announced earlier this year, underline our commitment to supporting both nation-building and reconstruction in Afghanistan and the international campaign against terrorism".
"Personnel will deploy with recently acquired Pinzgauer Special Operations Vehicles to provide independent tactical mobility," Mark Burton said.