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Kiwi Troops Return After a Job Well Done

Wednesday, November 29, 2006.

Kiwi Troops Return After a Job Well Done in Timor-Leste

A RNZAF Boeing 757 will arrive at Christchurch Airport on Friday carrying home the last of a 142-strong New Zealand Defence Force contingent who have been busy restoring calm to the streets of Dili.

One hundred and twelve troops will be on board the aircraft, completing the contingent's return which began on Saturday (November 25) when an advance party of 30 personnel arrived in Christchurch.

Contingent commander Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Fox said his troops had worked with Timor Leste's government and the Australian Defence Force to restore order following violent riots and gun fights which broke out in May this year.

The past few months had seen them provide back-up to a force of nearly 1000 UN Police, supporting them when a situation became difficult for the police to handle.

"We have fostered strong relationships with the community and the government of Timor-Leste. As a result, life in the streets of Dili is returning to normal. The job isn't finished yet but our progress so far shows what can be achieved working in partnership with the Timorese government, the Australians and the UN."

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jack Steer said he was proud of what the returning contingent had achieved in an environment which presented many challenges.

"When the contingent arrived in Timor-Leste during the riots in May it was a difficult place to be. Since then they have worked with the local people, the Australians and the UN to create an environment in which law and order is largely upheld."

A fresh rotation of 150 New Zealand Defence Force personnel replaced Lieutenant Colonel Fox's contingent on November 23.

The new contingent will take up the challenge of ensuring an environment which will facilitate a smooth electoral process for Timor-Leste's second ever democratic elections in May next year.

ENDS

Currently 751 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are deployed on operations, UN missions and defence exercises in 20 missions across 16 countries.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Who contributes to maintaining security in Timor-Leste? New Zealand Defence Force personnel work alongside about 930 Australian troops in an Australian-led mission in Timor-Leste. This military component is in Timor-Leste at the request of Timor-Leste's government and is currently providing back-up to a United Nations police force numbering almost 1000.

What do New Zealand troops do in Timor-Leste? New Zealand troops assist UN police in Dili CBD and the districts to the east while Australian forces work in central suburbs, Dili Airport and the districts to the West.

How long has New Zealand contributed defence personnel to Timor-Leste? New Zealand has contributed defence personnel in varying numbers to Timor-Leste since 1999.

How much training do troops undergo before deploying to Timor-Leste? New Zealand troops train regularly to ensure they have the skills necessary to deploy overseas. Prior to departing for Timor-Leste, NZDF personnel undergo an intensive five week training programme. This programme is specific to the Timor-Leste environment and covers such things as language and cultural training, fighting skills and vehicle training. The programme varies from person to person depending on the position they will fill in Timor-Leste (e.g. medical, communications or infantry).

ENDS

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