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Image: NZ Troops Return From Afghanistan

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

Friday 10 September 2004

NZ Troops Return From Afghanistan


Click for big version

94 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will arrive in Christchurch on Tuesday from a six-month tour of duty with the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan. Amongst the returning personnel is Group Captain Gavin Howse who was the Senior National Officer for the mission.

The welcome home will be attended by the Minister of Defence, the Honourable Mark Burton and the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson.

New Zealand first committed troops to the PRT in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan in September 2003. One year on, the NZ PRT has made a significant contribution to the rebuilding of the Bamyan infrastructure, and has been instrumental in helping the Bamyan province achieve the highest voter registration in the country.

The PRT is designed to assist the Afghan Transitional Government extend it's influence beyond Kabul, and promote reconstruction in Bamyan and assess civil, political and military reform efforts through community engagement.

The flight is scheduled to arrive at Christchurch Airport at 7.15 pm, Tuesday 14 September 2004. Media interested in covering the arrival should contact Lieutenant Megan Walsh, (021) 249 4769. Selected personnel will be made available for interview at Christchurch Airport, media wishing to conduct interviews are requested to register their interest with Captain Rachel Riley, (021) 384 179 prior to 3.00 pm 14 September 2004.

ENDS

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa
Friday 10 September, 2004

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAM TO AFGHANISTAN

What does the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) comprise of?

The PRT consists of three Liaison (LNO) teams supported by Infantry, Engineers, Staff Officers, Communications and Logistic staff totalling 91 personnel. The LNO teams provide a conduit for information throughout the region. The engineers are a mix of tradesmen (plant operators, carpenters, plumbers and electricians) to provide basic engineering support to the NZ PRT. The logistic support staff are a mix of drivers, cooks, medics, electrical technicians and vehicle mechanics to provide logistic support to the NZ PRT and maintenance of their equipment.

What sorts of tasks does the PRT undertake?

The NZ PRT aims to establish relationships with the Afghan regional leadership and monitors and co-ordinates activities aimed at strengthening the influence of the Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan (ITGA). The LNO teams also facilitate aid efforts, monitor disarmament and assist in the reconstruction of Afghan institutions (education facilities etc).

How long is the deployment intended for?

The first NZ PRT deployment to Afghanistan departed in September 2003 on a four month rotation. The mission is currently projected to end in mid 2005. Deployed personnel currently serve in the PRT for six months

Do we have adequate equipment and vehicles for this deployment?

Each rotation of the PRT deploys with sufficient self-protection equipment to conduct its intended role in Afghanistan. There was a requirement to hire vehicles for the initial PRT to operate in Afghanistan and these contracts will be extended until New Zealand’s withdrawal from the country.

Where is the PRT located?

The majority of the NZ PRT personnel are located in the village of Bamian within the Bamyan province. The remaining 8 personnel are located at Bagram Airforce Base.

What experience does the NZDF have in this type of operation?

The government maintains the greatest confidence in our military personnel, including their ability to undertake civil-military duties. In previous deployments – including in environments as diverse as East Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Bosnia and the Middle East – New Zealanders have been respected for their professionalism and their ability to engage and relate to the local people. This type of task is indicative of the wide-ranging, and increasingly complex nature of modern peacekeeping operations. The last year has seen the New Zealanders serving in Afghanistan achieve outstanding results and making a real difference to the establishment of the ITGA in the Bamyan province.

What is the security situation?

Afghanistan remains a difficult and challenging environment, but the NZDF is ideally suited to undertake this work, which is so vital to restoring normality for the people of Afghanistan. There are risks to our personnel (including environmental risks) and it is necessary for them to be able to protect themselves. As is the case with all deployments, the situation is closely monitored to ensure that conditions allow the NZDF to undertake the tasks for which they were deployed.

How is the PRT being supplied?

The US-led headquarters in Afghanistan facilitated the initial contracts for logistic support to the NZ PRT. Resupply flights from New Zealand are also conducted at various times during the deployment.

Who commands the New Zealand PRT?

As with all deployments, the Chief of Defence Force maintains full command of the NZ PRT, with operational command of deployed NZDF personnel being the responsibility of the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand. The Commander has appointed a Senior National Officer (SNO) to perform a similar function for the NZ PRT.

Deployed personnel will only be employed in those locations and on those specific tasks and duties that have been agreed between the government and the international coalition. The SNO would be authorised to withhold the services of NZDF personnel if any task or proposed action is considered outside the scope of the PRT mandate, compromises New Zealand’s national position, or may adversely affect New Zealand’s national interests.

How many members of the New Zealand Defence Force have served with the PRT?

To date around 420 personnel drawn from all three services have served with the PRT in Bamyan.

ENDS

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