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Defence Chief Welcomes Govt Commitment To Iraq

Defence Chief Welcomes Govt Commitment To Iraq

The Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, today welcomed the Government decision to deploy New Zealand forces into Iraq. “Our engineering unit has demonstrated its capability across a wide range of deployments including East Timor and the Pacific Islands.

“We currently have engineers working in the Solomons building new police stations.

“The 60 members of the team will be placed under the control of the United Kingdom. We have worked with them before and enjoy a strong bond.

”During my visit to London a few days ago I met with the Chief of Defence Staff for the British forces Sir Michael Walker who said he would be delighted for New Zealanders to be united with the United Kingdom.”

Air Marshal Ferguson said the engineers would comprise individuals with the capacity to meet a diverse range of capabilities ranging from construction and installation of sewerage systems through to construction of water supply.

“The full nature of the work to be undertaken will be identified once our reconnaissance team returns from Iraq.”

The Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom will take over an existing project.

“We have our own people in Afghanistan who are identifying the scope of the work to be undertaken and this will guide us in the formation of the PRT.”

He expects that both the engineers to Iraq and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams would deploy in about three months time.

The New Zealand Defence Force has made a significant contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom in line with Government’s commitment to the war against terrorism.

“I have just returned from visiting our ship, HMNZS Te Mana, and the P-3K Orion team all of whom are operating in Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“They are all in good shape and are representing New Zealand at the highest levels of professionalism in the war against terrorism.

“We may be numerically small in our overall contribution but our people are making a significant impact in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The new deployments will follow on from New Zealand Defence Force Special Forces who were deployed to Afghanistan in December of 2001.

“Our young men and women from the New Zealand Defence Force have done a great job and the decision by Government to commit our people to reconstruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan reflects the high regard in which we are held.”

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