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NZ Navy & AirForce join campaign against terrorism

NZ Navy and Air Force to join international campaign against terrorism

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today that a New Zealand frigate and a P3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft would be deployed to international operations campaign against the Taleban and Al-Qaeda as part of the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom.

Helen Clark and Mark Burton said that in October 2001 Parliament had supported New Zealand’s offer of assistance, including special forces, as part of the response of the United States and the international community to the 11 September terrorist attacks.

“Cabinet has today approved the deployment of a New Zealand frigate to the Operation Enduring Freedom Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO), from now until June 2003.

“HMNZS Te Kaha, currently off West Australia, will be deployed immediately to join the Canadian-led Coalition Task Group, patrolling the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.

“The Task Group monitors shipping activity in those areas and, in addition to escorting coalition vessels through the Straits of Hormuz, has a responsibility to gather intelligence, intercept and board shipping, and, if necessary, identify and detain Al Qaeda and Taleban personnel.”

Helen Clark and Mark Burton said it was envisaged that Te Kaha would remain on station until February 2003, when Te Mana would take over that role until late June 2003.

“A P3 Orion will provide maritime surveillance support for the Maritime Interdiction Operation for six months from April 2003, subject to suitable basing arrangements being made.

“New Zealand C130 Hercules aircraft have, during the course of this year, provided short-term transport support in and around Afghanistan. That support will continue next year. So too will New Zealand’s contribution of up to four staff officers to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Helen Clark said that last month’s tragic events in Bali reminded New Zealanders of the continuing threat of international terrorism and the need to work closely with others globally to counter the threat. Indeed, it will require a long-term commitment from all members of the international community to destroy the terrorist networks responsible for attacks on the United States, Bali and elsewhere.

“When I talked to President Bush and other leaders at APEC just two weeks ago, we agreed that international efforts against terrorism would not be short-term.

“At home, New Zealand is neither a soft target nor a safe haven for terrorists. Globally, we are also committed to making a solid contribution. While I am unable to be specific about our special forces’ efforts in Afghanistan, I know they have been widely commended by coalition partners.

“I am confident that Royal New Zealand Navy and Air Force personnel will also play an important part in the international campaign against terrorism,” Helen Clark said.

Contact: Mike Munro 021 428 835, David Lewis 021 409 492

Questions and Answers:

Q. How many New Zealanders will be involved?

Frigate: about 170 personnel, 7 land-based logistics support Orion: 11 crew, about 24 support personnel C130 Hercules: 5 crew, about 25 supporting personnel

Q. Where is the ship (Te Kaha) now?

It has just completed a series of visits to North and South East Asia where it participated in Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) training activities. It is currently off the west coast of Australia undertaking further training, including with the Australian Navy. Q. Is the ship prepared for this new task? Yes, it is operationally ready having completed training with FPDA partners but it may need to undertake some minor specific-to-task training, which will occur prior to arrival in the operational theatre.

Q. How long will Te Kaha remain on this task?

Te Kaha has been away from New Zealand since August and has completed a heavy programme of training and overseas port visits. In consequence, it is planned to bring Te Kaha home in February 2003 in order to conduct ship maintenance. Te Mana is scheduled to replace Te Kaha on station and continue to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom until mid-2003.

Q. What are the tasks that Te Kaha will undertake?

The ship will patrol the area of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea where it will monitor all shipping traffic; intercept shipping (including boarding) if evidence supports such action; intelligence gathering; identifying and detaining Al Qaeda and Taleban personnel; and escorting United States and coalition vessels through the straits of Hormuz. Te Kaha will not participate in maritime activities that are enforcing the sanctions regime on Iraq in the North Arabian Gulf nor will it participate in military action against Iraq during the deployment.

Q. What is the effect of this frigate deployment on planned Navy operations?

Participation in some planned naval exercises will be reviewed.

Q. Are the P3K aircraft up to the task? Yes, we have trained crew and we will prepare the aircraft for the tasks, including the ability to rotate airframes as appropriate.

Q. When will the aircraft be deployed?

It is planned to provide the P3K Orion aircraft to Operation Enduring Freedom maritime patrol activities from April 2003 in the Arabian Sea and adjacent oceans. Actual deployment is subject to satisfactorily concluding a basing agreement with a regional government. The Orion with a crew and support staff totalling about 35 personnel would be deployed for six months on a rotating basis.

A C130 Hercules aircraft will be available in mid-2003 to move coalition personnel and stores in and around Afghanistan. The C130 could deploy for up to three months with about 25 support personnel. Actual deployment may be subject to satisfactorily concluding a basing agreement.

Q. What is the effect of aircraft deployments on planned NZDF operations? The NZDF will be able to continue to deploy P3K Orions for search and rescue and surveillance tasks in and around New Zealand and within its area of interest.

Q. Where will New Zealand forces be based for this deployment?

Exactly where New Zealand forces might be based has yet to be finalised. Our ships and aircraft require port and air base facilities to be able to operate in the region. Basing personnel or assets in another country requires the prior approval of that country. We are now looking at various options in the region that will enable the New Zealand deployment to take place.

Q. Who else is involved in the Canadian-led Task Group? The Canadian-led coalition grouping comprises between four and seven ships from a range of countries including Canada, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Q. Is there any linkage between this deployment and any future military operations in Iraq

There is no linkage between the two. The decision has been taken with the understanding that the New Zealand assets and military personnel that will be deployed to the Gulf will be used only for the Operation Enduring Freedom Maritime Interdiction Operation. There is no intention that these forces would be used for any military action against Iraq. The New Zealand contribution to OEF is part of our contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.

Q. Is there any linkage between this deployment and last weekend’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 on Iraq?

No connection. That resolution relates to the process of weapons inspections in Iraq and gives Iraq one last chance to co-operate fully with weapons inspections. The deployment to the OEF Maritime Interdiction Operation relates to international military action against the Taleban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda continues to pose a risk to the international community. We have made a tangible contribution to the campaign in Afghanistan through the contribution of Special Forces. This deployment represents a further New Zealand commitment to Operation Enduring Freedom.

Q. Is there a connection between this deployment and the deployment of New Zealand military personnel to the UNMOVIC operation in Iraq?

This deployment is completely separate from the deployment of a New Zealand support team for UNMOVIC. That team is being deployed as New Zealand’s contribution to the process of weapons inspections in Iraq.

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