Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman say New Zealand will continue to make a small but proportionate military commitment to the international mission in Afghanistan from May 2013, and remains committed to international efforts to improve the security and prosperity of Afghanistan.
“The current NATO/ISAF mission is not scheduled to end until December 2014. As previously indicated, the Government believes it remains in New Zealand’s interests to continue to play our part to secure the gains that have been achieved in Afghanistan over the last decade,” McCully says.
“Most of these deployments will, initially, operate from the closing of the PRT in April, for a one-year period to the end of April 2014.”
Cabinet today agreed the extent of New Zealand’s contribution to Afghanistan beyond the April withdrawal of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) from Bamyan province, in line with the joint ISAF/Afghan transition plan.
Coleman says 27 NZDF personnel will be based in Afghanistan, predominately in the capital, Kabul.
“While the overall numbers of this contribution are relatively small compared to the size of the PRT, the NZDF deployments cover a range of roles and will be highly-valued during the final stages of the ISAF mission,” Coleman says.
“It is important that the gains that have been made over the last decade in security, development, health and human rights are not lost.”
The group will comprise:
· Eight NZDF personnel deployed to the UK-led Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy in Kabul from later this year. As announced last year, this particular deployment is likely to extend beyond 2014
· Twelve NZDF personnel to the ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters employed mainly in intelligence and planning roles
· Three NZDF personnel with the ISAF headquarters in Kabul
· Three NZDF support personnel as part of the New Zealand “National Support Element
· One NZDF officer with the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan
These deployments are in addition to NZ’s commitment announced last year to contribute US$2 million per year from 2015 to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces after the ISAF mission concludes.
New Zealand will also continue to provide development assistance to Bamyan province after the withdrawal of the PRT. The New Zealand Embassy in Kabul is expected to close before the end of 2014.