Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, and Defence Minister Ron Mark have announced that New Zealand will change its deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to the NATO-led train, advise, assist mission in Afghanistan by decreasing the number of personnel on the ground from 13 to 11.
The NZDF deployment will continue until December 2020 to support the training of Afghan Army Officers within the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, in partnership with the UK and others, but with a smaller number of personnel.
In addition the Government has decided to pursue opportunities for NZDF personnel to support Women, Peace and Security and reconciliation and reintegration initiatives in Afghanistan.
“New Zealand has made a long-term and substantial commitment to Afghanistan’s security and wellbeing since 2001”, Winston Peters said.
“The Government has decided that there is a clear need to continue our support to the non-combat, NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM). This advances New Zealand’s global security interests and the interests of the Afghan people in preventing their country from being used once again as a safe haven for extremist groups. At this time, continued support by the international community also bolsters prospects that meaningful peace negotiations can take place”.
The new positions we are seeking with NATO would focus on enhancing involvement of women in peace and security initiatives, in alignment with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. UNSCR1325 seeks to enhance the involvement of women, including in peace negotiations and post-conflict processes,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“This is an important area of work for the Government and the Defence Force, and we are pleased that New Zealand’s contribution to it in Afghanistan would be led by some of NZDF’s highly capable female officers.”
While the focus of New Zealand’s deployment in Afghanistan is being broadened, the overall size of the deployment is decreasing.
“The Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy, to which the NZDF has deployed trainers since 2013, now requires less international support as it becomes increasingly self-sufficient,” Ron Mark explained.
“By March 2020, the number of NZDF personnel deployed in Afghanistan will have decreased from 13 to 11. This will comprise six personnel deployed to the Officer Academy, two personnel within RSM Headquarters and potentially up to three focusing on Women, Peace and Security and reconciliation and reintegration. The Government will again consider New Zealand’s contributions to Afghanistan by the end of 2020.”