The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will complete its commitments and proceed with the withdrawal of personnel from Afghanistan following the Government’s announcement today that the deployment will conclude this year.
Over the past 20 years, the NZDF has worked alongside partners in Afghanistan, making a significant contribution to regional security and the lives of people of Afghanistan.
More than 3500 NZDF personnel have served in Afghanistan. Tragically, 10 NZDF personnel have lost their lives serving there.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the six personnel currently in Afghanistan would return to New Zealand within the next couple of months.
Rear Admiral Gilmour said the NZDF had made a significant contribution to regional security and development in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, including in Bamyan province with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Recently, NZDF personnel have been supporting the NATO-led mentoring for the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), and working at the NATO Resolute Support Mission headquarters.
NZDF mentors have been supporting the ANAOA since its creation in 2013. They have been part of an international mentoring team together with the United Kingdom, Denmark and formerly Australia and Norway.
The academy produces about 75 percent of Afghan National Army officers. In September 2020, the academy graduated its 5000th cadet.
At the NATO Resolute Support Mission headquarters, NZDF personnel have been supporting Women, Peace and Security initiatives including in gender advisor roles.
Their work has included assisting in the development of Afghan National Army gender advisers and helping remove barriers for females in the Afghan army, including through the establishment of childcare facilities and education and training opportunities.
Rear Admiral Gilmour said NZDF personnel, working alongside international partners, had directly contributed to the development of future Afghan military leaders.
“Our NZDF trainers and mentors have made a valuable contribution to the academy which has been developing to self-sufficiency, with our support no longer needed,’’ he said.
“We are also proud to have contributed to women, peace and security initiatives in Afghanistan, and look forward to seeing further progress in Afghanistan as this work continues.
“It has been a privilege to support our Afghan partners and serve alongside them over the years.”