Flying the Air Force Flag in Afghanistan!
The RNZAF contingent at Kiwi Base in Bamiyan
This is the last NZDF rotation to Kiwi Base at Bamyan—each person has a part to play in the contingent achieving its mission. This is reflected in our motto:
He tini mano ringa ka oti ai. Many hands will achieve the task.
The PRT in recent years has taken on a multi-national & multi-organisational approach to accomplish projects for the benefit of the people of Bamyan Province. The NZDF for its part has provided security to enable these projects to be achieved. These projects have aimed to improve health, education and agriculture. Nearing completion are several solar-powered electricity generating plants for Bamyan.
The NZ-sponsored projects are overseen by Sean Torbit, the Development Manager NZ Aid Programme and himself ex-Air Force. While the NZ aid will continue, the presence of NZDF personal is coming to an end—hence the need for a Mission Closure Team (MCT). They have a big task ahead of them.
FLTLT Dwayne Boyes is 2IC for the Mission Closure Team. “My role here is varied and challenging—the planning and execution of our retrograde activities. What does this mean in layman's terms? It means taking as much NZPRT stuff as they can hand over, then packaging it for either truck, helicopter or fixed wing transport. In the short time that we have had, we have prepared land consignments for road convoys, air freight for UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters, freight for American and Australian C-130s, civilian fixed wing aircraft and even worked around the world’s largest helicopter, the Mi-26. All in all it is a constantly evolving, ever challenging and always enjoyable task … This in itself has been an enjoyable and hugely challenging experience and this is just the quiet period.”
In the MCT are also two further Air Force personnel, SGT Hemi Poipoi and CPL Ruks Ruakarai.
The only qualified refueller in this contingent is CPL Scotty Cameron who has to make sure all our generators are continually fuelled. At night the temperatures can drop to below -20ºC, then his role is very important! CPL Cameron also refuels the many aircraft that land on ‘our’ airfield—to date that totals 87. Again he has to do this in all sorts of weather and at this time of year, the wind chill factor generated by the helicopters is extreme.
My role as Padre’s role is varied too. I find it is rewarding to interact with the local community through English classes, by distributing clothes to local organisations to help the less fortunate Afghanis such as orphans or prisoners. It is tough for people living in this harsh climate—I have distributed SWASI jackets, woollen knitted hats and baby clothes, and assorted clothing, shoes, stationery and sewing kits to many worthy recipients who have been very appreciative. A lot of these materials have been given by Kiwis.
But for the PRT this is coming to an end, as the Afghan people take a firm stand on governance of their country. We are proud of what has been accomplished by all those who have gone before us, and we never forget the cost of lives it has taken to achieve this.
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