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Kiwi Troops Prepare for Afghanistan Post

Friday, October 13, 2006.

Kiwi Troops Prepare for Afghanistan Post

Adjusting to a cold Afghan winter will be one of the biggest challenges faced by a group of 108 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deploying to Afghanistan on Monday.

The contingent, led by Group Captain Kevin Short, will relieve the current rotation of NZDF personnel who have been serving with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) in Afghanistan's Bamyan Province for the past six months.

They will leave the relative warmth of Ohakea Air Force Base at 10am on Monday 16 October and fly to Afghanistan at the beginning of an icy winter - where temperatures can drop as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

"The biggest challenge we will face will be achieving all of our objectives over a harsh winter," Group Captain Short said. "We are more limited than the summer rotations because of the snow and cold. It will be frustrating at times but we will do our best to cope."

The deployment would be the ninth rotation of defence force personnel to serve in the NZ PRT. Numbers had been reduced by 14 personnel for the winter rotation because the icy conditions and snow made it too difficult to patrol a number of mountain ranges and passes in Bamyan province, Group Captain Short said.

The majority of the 108-strong deployment would stay at Kiwi Base in Bamyan province but 11 would be based in Bagram, to the east, to provide logistical support, he said Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jack Steer said the NZ PRT aimed to ensure security in Bamyan province by carrying out regular patrols, liaising with local government and helping to distribute aid and improve infrastructure.

The teams had done a "remarkably good job" since New Zealand took control of the Bamyan provincial reconstruction team in September 2003, he said. "The relationship we have fostered with the Afghan people in Bamyan has made our job of ensuring a secure environment and helping the nation get back on its feet much easier. I have confidence that this deployment will continue the good work."

ENDS


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