Defence chiefs deliver the goods
Friday August 19, 2005
Defence chiefs deliver
On a recent patrol in Yakawlong, Afghanistan senior New Zealand officers were among those providing educational resources and communication equipment to appreciative local primary schools.
Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, Joint Forces Commander, Major-General Lou Gardiner, and New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Long, are making a series of official visits to Afghanistan and the Middle East to witness the progress made in the regions under New Zealand's assistance.
The group accompanied a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) on patrol to Yakawlong, the area northwest of Kiwi Base, Bamiyan. Assisting the PRT, the senior officers took time out from the more official aspects of their visit to meet with local representatives and deliver books, paper and pens- all in short supply throughout Afghanistan.
Grundig radios, powered by a wind-up mechanism rather than batteries, were also provided to the Afghan people. An essential communication link in an isolated region, they provide an easier means of sharing information when a 90 km trip can take up to nine hours by vehicle and donkey is a more common means of transport.
After visiting the first New Zealand contingent in 2003, Air Marshal Ferguson was impressed with what has been achieved to date. "Each contingent has made significant advances by building on the previous work. In Bamiyan, there has been a quantum change in the whole environment. It now feels secure; there are significant new commerce, enterprise, and roading improvements. The atmosphere created by New Zealand PRTs allows ordinary Afghans to assume a normal life - something that most of them haven't had until now".