The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has commenced deployment of a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft and personnel to assist with international efforts to evacuate New Zealanders and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF was deploying approximately 80 personnel including aircrew and maintenance staff, a medical team, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection personnel, amongst others.
“It will be a challenging mission given the changing circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan. The NZDF personnel deploying on this mission, and those involved in the planning in New Zealand, are making every effort to help get New Zealanders and other eligible evacuees out of Afghanistan safely.
“We have included a medical team who will not only look after our deployed personnel but also those we help evacuate, as we have a duty of care for them while they are on our aircraft and in our care.”
NZDF personnel will be working to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, alongside our military partners, to facilitate the processing of eligible evacuees, he said.
The C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft departed RNZAF Base Auckland this morning with a portion of deploying personnel on board.
The remaining personnel are deploying over the coming days to a base in the Middle East region where they will provide planning, logistical and other support to assist with the evacuations.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore Shaun Sexton said the aircraft would be part of a coalition air bridge which would see the aircraft flying between Afghanistan and airports in the Middle East with evacuees.
“To meet the Government’s objectives of assisting with the evacuation of New Zealanders and other eligible nationals, we expect to be flying into Afghanistan to facilitate the repatriations from next week.”
The NZDF deployment is expected to be for a month, although that may change depending on requirements.
All NZDF deploying personnel are vaccinated and will be carrying out COVID-19 prevention protocols. They will complete 14 days managed isolation on their return to New Zealand.