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Defence force personnel leave for Afghanistan

Monday 18 July 2005

Defence force personnel leave for Afghanistan

The Honourable Ruth Dyson and Major General Lou Gardiner will farewell New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deploying to Afghanistan on Wednesday 20 July, from Christchurch International Airport.

The deployment of 122 NZDF personnel will replace the current New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) located in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan.

"The New Zealand PRT plays an important role in restoring and maintaining stability in the Bamyan Province. The team assists the Afghan Government by promoting reconstruction in Bamyan and assessing civil, political and military reform efforts. The team conduct liaison patrols throughout the province and interact with members of the community at all levels," said Major General Lou Gardiner, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand

"A significant achievement for the PRT was the registration and participation of the people of Bamyan in last year's presidential elections. Over 90% of the Bamyan Province registered to vote with almost 50% being women. The PRT about to deploy will be assisting with the parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for September and I'm sure they will continue the good work of their predecessors."

Major General Gardiner acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan still poses a security challenge.

"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 both within Afghanistan and from other countries for its work."

Departure details:

The 122 strong contingent will depart Christchurch International Airport from the Arrivals Hall at 10:25 am, Wed 20 Jul 05. Guests, family and friends of the contingent will attend the departure.

Media are invited to attend the farewell and meet with the contingent and their families:

9:55 am Contingent personnel assemble in Arrivals Hall for farewells

10:10 am VIPs/Padre to address NZDF personnel and families

10:25 am Contingent process through Customs

11:25 am Contingent departs on Royal New Zealand Air Force B757

For further information please contact the Public Relations Manager for Operations, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Lincoln on (04) 529 6031 or 021 806 926

BACKGROUND

New Zealand's current commitments to Afghanistan

New Zealand continues to assist Afghanistan with the provision of personnel in the following areas:

122 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel comprise the Provincial Reconstruction Team located in the Bamyan Region. Originally deployed in September 2003, the PRT has been extended through until September 2006. The contingent deploying on 20 July will be the sixth rotation of personnel to the area, with each rotation serving for approximately six months.

The NZDF also provides two personnel to assist with the training and establishment of the Afghan National Army. This commitment is scheduled to end in December 2005.

Four NZDF officers currently serve with the International Security Assistance Force which supports the Afghan Transitional Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan. This commitment is also scheduled to end in December 2005.

A further two NZDF personnel are deployed with the multinational force operational headquarters. One officer works in the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan in Kabul with the other officer working with the Coalition Joint Task Force in Bagram. These commitments are scheduled to end in December 2005.

One NZDF Military Liaison Officer is deployed with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). This officer is playing a valuable role as a strategic interface between the multinational forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities.

New Zealand also provides two Police officers to assist the training of Afghan police officers in Bamyan. These officers will remain until the end of 2005.

New Zealand - Significant Operations

The NZDF has maintained a very high level of operational tempo over the past year. The NZDF has served in numerous locations around the globe including Bosnia, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As a small but professional, versatile and adaptable Defence Force, the NZDF stands ready to play its role in helping the Government respond to pressing regional and international security issues.

Total numbers deployed on overseas UN missions and other operations at present is 192 with a further 445 overseas involved in training or exercises.

International and regional security trends indicate that the professional expertise of the NZDF will continue to be a vital requirement for supporting New Zealand's credibility as a good international citizen through its support of the United Nations and the rule of international law.

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.

ENDS

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