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New Zealand Defence Force withdraws remaining personnel from Afghanistan

29 Mar 2021 (Last Updated March 29th, 2021 11:45)

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has withdrawn its remaining military troops from Afghanistan following a 20-year deployment.

New Zealand Defence Force withdraws remaining personnel from Afghanistan
NZDF concluded the withdrawal of last set of military personnel from Afghanistan. Credit: New Zealand Defence Force.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has withdrawn its remaining military troops from Afghanistan following a 20-year deployment.

Last month, the New Zealand Government announced that it was set to conclude the deployment.

Since the US-led invasion in 2001, New Zealand has deployed more than 3,500 defence and other agency workforce to Afghanistan.

During this period, ten New Zealanders lost their lives in the line of duty.

Final contingent Senior National Officer Colonel Ben Bagley said that the six personnel, who are the last set of troops, made a significant contribution to the nation.

According to NZDF, five of the six NZDF personnel have completed two weeks of managed isolation in New Zealand while the sixth person is based overseas with family.

Colonel Ben Bagley said: “While small in number, we had sizeable tasks ahead of us when we first arrived in Afghanistan last year. When we lowered the New Zealand flag, we were all quite proud to be the last Kiwis to represent our country in Afghanistan.”

Three NZDF personnel have been supporting the ‘UK-led mentoring for the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA)’.

NZDF noted that the defence force’s role at the ANAOA changed from ‘training cadets to one of mentoring Afghan trainers’ over time.

ANAOA has now reached ‘self-sufficiency’ and does not require New Zealand’s contribution.

Bagley said that coronavirus-related measures had greatly ‘restricted movements’ and daily activities in Afghanistan, and added that ”it was good to be back in New Zealand’.

He added: “Gyms and messes were closed, everyone wears face masks, meetings are held virtually and there is no socialising.”

Last year, the NZDF conducted a critical training exercise in the South Auckland and Papakura areas to maintain its operational readiness.