New Zealand extends commitment to train Afghan soldiers until 2018

5 July 2016 (Last Updated July 5th, 2016 18:30)

New Zealand troops will stay in Afghanistan until June 2018 to train Afghan National Army personnel, according to New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

New Zealand troops will stay in Afghanistan until June 2018 to train Afghan National Army personnel, according to New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Since 2013, the New Zealand Defence Force has contributed eight personnel to train soldiers at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, located outside Kabul.

Brownlee said that 1,651 troops have graduated from the academy since then.

"These young leaders are necessary for the development of an enduring, professional army."

The cabinet has also committed to increase the number of trainers deployed in Afghanistan from eight to ten.

Brownlee said: "New Zealand Defence Force personnel are doing a good job helping develop the junior leaders of the Afghan National Army.

"These young leaders are necessary for the development of an enduring, professional army."

The UK-led academy forms part of Nato's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces and institutions.

Brownlee further added: "Nato Ministers have made a decision to sustain the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016.

"This decision will allow New Zealand to stand alongside our partners in supporting stability in Afghanistan and countering the threat of international terrorism."

In June, the US pledged to increase support for on-going counter-terrorism and force-protection missions in Afghanistan.

The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces will receive full funding from the US until 2020.

The US also announced plans to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2016.