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NZDF personnel return from Afghanistan

Thu, 10 Feb 2005

New Zealand Defence Force Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Thursday February 10, 2005

DEFENCE FORCE personnel return from AFGHANISTAN 104 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will arrive in Christchurch on Saturday from a six-month tour of duty with the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan. Amongst the returning personnel is Colonel Michael Alexander who was the Senior National Officer for the mission.

The Honourable Ruth Dyson, the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson and Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Major General Lou Gardiner will welcome home the contingent at Christchurch Airport. New Zealand first committed troops to the PRT in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan in September 2003.

Almost two years on and 550 NZDF personnel, 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 RNZAF Boeing 757 is scheduled to arrive at Christchurch Airport at 00:10 am, Saturday 12 February 2005.

The information contained in this Internet Email message is intended for the addressee only and may contain privileged information, but not necessarily the official views or opinions of the New Zealand Defence Force. If you are not the intended recipient you must not use, disclose, copy or distribute this message or the information in it.

Frequently Asked Questions – NZ PRT Afghanistan Backgrounder

The main body of 104 (4th rotation) NZDF personnel left New Zealand for Afghanistan on 28 August 2004. Prior to their departure Crib 4 completed pre-deployment training that prepared them not only for dealing with the social and political situations they would encounter, but also to be able to do their core jobs in what is an “extremely harsh” environment. The deployment commander is Colonel Mick Alexander and personnel have been drawn from all three services including two Territorial Force members. Projects completed during their six-month rotation ranged from engineering projects and school refurbishments, to conducting health programmes in surrounding villages. The NZ PRT was involved in the Afghan parliamentary elections, held in September 2004. New Zealand’s deployments to Afghanistan reflect our government’s support for stability and reconstruction ops – and recognition that a failure to stabilise Afghanistan would have consequences for the global campaign against terrorism. These commitments are in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, and are part of NZ’s support for the maintenance of international peace and security.

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

The PRT consisted of four Liaison (LNO) teams supported by Infantry, Engineers, Staff Officers, Communications and Logistic staff. 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 maintains relationships and establishes new ones 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 facilitated aid efforts, monitored disarmament and assisted in the reconstruction of Afghan institutions (educational and medical 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 2006. Deployed personnel currently serve in the PRT for six months; this was New Zealand’s fourth rotation.

Do we have adequate equipment for this deployment and are they prepared? Each rotation of the PRT deploys with sufficient self-protection equipment to conduct its intended role in Afghanistan. Each rotation has learnt valuable lessons from the previous and a extensive handover period is conducted in theatre to ensure change over personnel are fully briefed and up to speed with all the changes in their region. New Zealand has an excellent reputation and is highly regarded by its coalition partners.

Where is the PRT located?

The majority of the NZ Defence Force personnel are located in the village of Bamian within the Bamyan province. NZ Defence Force also has staff officers located at Bagram Air Force Base and Kabul.

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

The NZ 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. In 2004, the NZ PRT in Afghanistan achieved outstanding results and made a real difference to the establishment of the ITGA in the Bamyan province.

NZDF personnel help in Afghan election.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan have been commended for their role in facilitating a successful turnout of voters in Bamyan during the recent presidential elections (September 2004). According to the US department of State representative in the area, Ms Carmela Conroy Based in Bamyan, NZ PRT are “very well received” by the locals, the PRT provided a reassuring presence, and the patrols, which canvassed most of the province, were very much appreciated by the local population. In the weeks leading up to the elections the NZ PRT conducted an information campaign to encourage people to vote and have their say in Afghanistan’s future. Locals were urged to contact the NZ PRT if they knew of anyone who planned to disrupt the elections. On Election Day, the NZ PRT provided escorts for the movement of votes, and also provided security in the areas surrounding the polling and counting centres.

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 (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 are deployed.

How is the PRT being supplied? The US-led headquarters in Afghanistan facilitated the initial contracts for logistic support to the NZ PRT. Re-supply flights from New Zealand are also conducted at various times during the deployment utilising RNZAF C-130H Hercules and Boeing 757 aircraft.

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 appoints a Senior National Officer (SNO) to perform a similar function for the NZ PRT in Afghanistan. The SNO is 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 550 personnel drawn from all three services have served with the PRT in Bamyan.

What deployments does New Zealand have in Afghanistan? The fifth Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan consists 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. NZDF pers (2 officers and 1 JNCO) 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 maintains 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 sorts of tasks is the NZ PRT undertaking? 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.

NZ PRT ASSISTS FLOOD DECIMATED VILLAGE IN AFGHANISTAN

Much needed aid to Dehe Myana The New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) to Afghanistan recently delivered much needed aid to Dehe Myana (Jan 05), a remote village located deep in central Afghanistan. This aid was made possible through the organisational efforts of the NZ PRT Development Group, including Lt Phil Brown, the New Zealand Engineering Officer (RNZN), and Colonel Nick Hallock, the US Army Civil Military Affairs and US AID coordinator; and through the monetary contribution from the PRT Commander’s Discretionary Fund, which was set up to respond to emergency situations. Flight Lieutenant Cameron Harvey, 2IC of Kiwi Team 2 responsible for coordinating the distribution, was surprised at the total destruction of housing and crops in the area.

‘Many people were homeless and were either accommodated by other families or living in nearby caves or makeshift tents supplied by UNHCR’. He said ‘the desperation of the local people, at the distribution point, was obvious given the strained accommodation, lack of food and freezing temperatures’.

This was the second of three aid distributions currently destined for Dehe Myana and was crucial in helping to alleviate the suffering of the people. Approximately 50 – 60 families, severely affected by unprecedented flooding in July 2004, received large bags of rice, flour and cooking oil in addition to a supply of tools such as shovels, saws, and other building implements essential to the rebuilding of the flood ravaged village.

The distribution was a humanitarian effort intended to alleviate poverty and to strengthen trust and cooperation between the Kiwi patrol and the local Afghan people. While it alleviates their short-term suffering, the people of Dehe Myana still face many challenges including the reconstruction of their village; management of waterborne diseases and the continued battling of winter elements.

The NZPRT, in an effort to promote stability in the Bamyan province, will continue to work closely with the locals to support and address these issues. Already additional food, clothing and blankets have been allocated and will be distributed by Kiwi Team 2 as part of New Zealand’s continued endeavour to strengthen security and stability within the Bamyan province, in order to prevent the re-emergence and export of terrorism and enable sustainable Afghan Self Governance

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.

QUICK LOOK Highlights from fourth rotation Main body arrived 1 Sep, end of summer very hot. Conditions dusty, registration for Presidential elections recently completed. Elections in Oct, very successful, NZ PRT worked with UN and local police to good effect. Bamyan had very high voter turn out (particularly female), even though it snowed. NZ PRT presence provided reassurance to vote. Other Ops included lifting illegal caches throughout the province and then destroying the ammunition.

This assisted NZ PRTs mission of marginalising the causes of instability in the area. NZ PRT continued to develop relationships with key figures in Bamyan Province and provided a security presence in the area (day to day role). This allowed the population to grow and prosper within a relatively secure environment. Projects Equipped the newly reconstructed Bamyan University and paid salaries for three months.

Equipped local police with vehicles and radios. Sponsored vocational training projects for demobilised soldiers (metal work, computing, English classes, carpentry, mechanics). Worked with other implementing partners and NGOs to build key bridges and roads to make the central highlands more accessible. Built and opened three primary schools.

Built a police check point facility/station. Distributed humanitarian aid from NZ to refugees before winter. Feb 05, middle of winter, temperatures as cold as -22 C at night, mobility limited in the local area due to snow, preparing for rotation. Looking forward to going home.

ENDS

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