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Kiwi Troops Return After Tour in Afghanistan

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release
Thursday, October 26, 2006


Kiwi Troops Return After Successful Tour in Afghanistan

They have helped build police stations and a school and disposed of tons of munitions but after six months in Afghanistan the eighth rotation of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) is coming home.

The majority of the 122-strong group, made up of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, will return to Ohakea Air Force Base on October 30 having completed their duties in Afghanistan’s Bamyan province. An advance party of 36 personnel from the deployment returned on October 22.

During their six month tour they helped destroy tons of munitions and weapons and worked with the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZ AID) to manage the construction of five police stations and six bridges. Contractors organised by the NZ PRT are also nearing completion of Bamyan Boys’ High School, which will accommodate 300 boys from Year 1 to Year 12.

To compliment the police station project and help with medical care in the province the team has also worked with NZ AID to purchase vehicles for the Afghan National Police in Bamyan and for workers at Bamyan Hospital.

Eighth rotation commander Captain Ross Smith, RNZN, said the relationships his contingent had fostered with the local security forces and community had made their job easier.

“We have built an extremely solid relationship with the local security forces that has extended to numerous joint patrols and training. This relationship and the patrols’ continued presence in the communities of all districts has maintained the relatively secure and stable environment that Bamyan enjoys.”

Maintaining momentum throughout the entire six month stay had proved challenging at times but seeing the results of their work had kept them going, Captain Smith said.

“I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved but I think as winter approaches everyone is looking forward to getting home, reuniting with family and friends, and taking a well earned rest.”

A fresh rotation of 108 New Zealand Defence Force personnel departed for Afghanistan on October 16 to continue security and reconstruction work in Bamyan province over the coming months.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jack Steer said he had no doubts the new deployment would continue in the previous rotation’s footsteps.

“We have been making good progress in Bamyan province and I’m confident the latest deployment of New Zealand defence force men and women will continue to do us proud.”

ENDS

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