Defence Force Mission In Afghanistan - A Significant Contribution
An NZDF soldier walks through a market in Bamyan with an Afghan local.
New Zealand’s contribution to Afghanistan has made a significant difference to the lives of Afghans, Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Rhys Jones, said today.
More than 3,500 Defence Force personnel have deployed to Afghanistan since late 2001, with the majority serving in Bamyan Province, assisted by the National Support Element in Bagram and Dubai. There have also been four separate NZSAS deployments, and contributions to ISAF headquarters and the UN mission in Afghanistan.
The mission in Bamyan has been a major commitment and a significant milestone for the Defence Force. It has also been a key commitment for NZ Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade personnel.
LTGEN Jones says that the achievements in Bamyan have been possible as a result of the security provided by the NZPRT.
"New Zealand is leaving a lasting legacy. Bamyan remains one of the more secure Provinces in Afghanistan. The Defence Force’s active engagement with the local population and our strong relationship with key leaders, coupled with development projects and community involvement, has helped to minimise influence from insurgents."
General Dunford, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), has acknowledged New Zealand’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan.
"Through the work of the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team, Bamyan now has stronger security and stability, and firm governance in place. New Zealand has certainly fulfilled its promise to its coalition partners and to the Afghan people."
Bamyan Provincial Governor, Dr Habiba Sarabi, says the Bamyan people are grateful for the support provided by the NZPRT. "The Bamyan authorities and community believe the PRT support in the fields of security, good governance, tourism development, education and health sectors and infrastructure have changed the face of Bamyan. The Bamyan people will not forget the services and the humanitarian support of the New Zealand people."
Bamyan Provincial Chief of Police, General Razak, says the local security forces are grateful to the Kiwis for the training and mentoring provided by the Defence Force and NZ Police.
"The PRT has conducted very good workshops, capacity building programmes, and good practical training. They have provided very valuable advice, which was very helpful for use at different levels building our capacity."
Bamyan has made significant development progress in the last decade. Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Kamal Singh previously deployed on CRIB 11 and saw a number of differences on CRIB 21.
"There’s more schools, more girls going to school. There’s a massive difference in the roads, and there’s power in houses, as well as more wells and infrastructure," SSGT Singh said.
"The NZDF has made a massive contribution. I believe Bamyan will be in capable hands. They’ve got the training, it’s up to them. We were always going back home eventually."
The key leaders in Bamyan speak highly of the Kiwis and the strong relationship. Dr Sarabi says she has always admired the behaviour of Kiwis.
"They respect the culture of Bamyan, they respect the people, especially the elders and the people in the villages… We have a friendship and brothership with them."
LTGEN Jones said New Zealanders have done a great job in Afghanistan over the past decade, and made a significant contribution to the future of the country, and to the lives of the Afghan people.
A contingent of 27 NZ Defence Force personnel will continue to support Afghanistan and Bamyan to ensure the progress made by New Zealanders over the years is sustained, and the Afghan people can continue to look forward to a better future for themselves and their families.
Afghanistan key facts – NZ Defence Force
Initial involvement in Afghanistan
The NZ Government deployed NZDF personnel to Afghanistan to help to ensure Al Qaeda would not have a safe haven in Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.
NZDF’s initial contribution to the US led Operation Enduring Freedom included –
- The deployment of the NZSAS in late 2001 for a full year;
- The RNZN frigate HMNZS TE KAHA deployed to the Gulf of Oman in December 2002, contributing to maritime interdiction operations; HMNZS TE MANA continued that commitment until June 2003;
- A RNZAF P3 Orion provided maritime surveillance support for six months in 2003;
- A RNZAF C-130 Hercules deployed to Kyrgyzstan to support coalition activities;
- Two NCO’s deployed in September 2003 to work with a UK team providing training to the Afghan National Army in Kabul;
- A small number of staff officers contributed to the Coalition Joint Task Force in Bagram, and to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, which was jointly led by Germany and the Netherlands.
In November 2006 the mission transferred to the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.
A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was established in Bamyan Province to assist with providing a secure environment, enabling the facilitation of reconstruction and development.
The Bamyan PRT was established in January 2003 by the US, and the NZ Defence Force subsequently took command in September 2003 with approximately 100 personnel.
The PRT has provided the platform for a multi-agency, multi-national effort to support the development of Bamyan, one of Afghanistan’s most impoverished Provinces.
While the Kiwis make up the bulk of the PRT, other elements have included - Defence personnel from the US, Singapore and more recently Malaysia, as well as civilian personnel ie the US State Department.
Over 3,500 NZDF personnel have deployed to Afghanistan since late 2001, with the majority serving with the NZPRT in Bamyan.
To date the NZDF has spent almost $300 million as result of its commitment in Afghanistan.
In May 2010 Dick Newlands was appointed the first MFAT civilian Director of the NZPRT, in line with transition towards building the capacity of Afghan security forces and civil administration.
Bamyan Province was the first Province to transition in July 2011, marking the transfer of responsibility for provincial level security back to Afghan control.
Bamyan remains one of the more secure provinces in Afghanistan. It is predominately inhabited by a minority group known as the Hazara people. They want peace and a better future for their families. This has enabled the NZPRT in its role.
NZ Police successfully concluded its seven year contribution to Bamyan at the end of 2012, providing assistance to Afghan National Security Forces in training and mentoring.
NZ’s fallen soldiers
A new memorial plaque dedicated to our fallen soldiers in Bamyan and also to the Afghans who lost their lives will be unveiled in Bamyan. There is also an ANZAC memorial plaque in Kabul.
The eight soldiers who died in Bamyan are: Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell; Private Kirifi Mila; Corporal Douglas Hughes; Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer; Lance Corporal Rory Malone; Corporal Luke Tamatea; Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker; and Private Richard Harris. Corporal Douglas Grant and Lance Corporal Leon Smith from NZSAS died in Kabul.
Other NZDF personnel deployed
NZDF currently has a small number of personnel in Kabul attached to Headquarters ISAF, and an officer supports the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The NZSAS also have a small number of personnel deployed to Afghanistan in a liaison and planning role.
NZDF future commitment
New Zealand will continue to support Afghanistan to ensure the progress made by the international community is sustained. NZDF will continue its contribution in Afghanistan with the deployment of 27 personnel.
- It will take a couple of months for NZDF to transition to taking up these positions. Predominately based in Kabul, it includes:
- 8 personnel attached to the UK led Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy;
- 3 personnel based at ISAF headquarters;
- 12 personnel attached to ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters in largely intelligence and planning roles;
- 3 support personnel as part of NZ’s National Support Element;
- One officer with UNAMA.
For more information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.
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