5 April 2013
NZ, Malaysian and US flags are lowered for the last time at a ceremony in Bamian, Afghanistan.
New Zealand’s decade long military contribution to Bamyan Province, Afghanistan, officially came to an end at a ceremony in Kiwi Base, Bamian town.
The New Zealand flag was lowered for the final time by the twenty-first and last rotation of NZ Defence Force personnel to serve with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) in Bamyan.
Attending the ceremony were His Excellency The Governor-General, Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Defence Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman, Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, and New Zealand Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall.
The NZPRT has made a substantial contribution to security and development in Bamyan Province in the last decade, says Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Rhys Jones.
"New Zealand is leaving a lasting legacy in Bamyan Province. As a result of the security that the NZPRT has provided, significant progress has been made.
"The impact of our development projects in the last 10 years is considerable. It is clearly visible in the classrooms built, the hospitals refurbished, the villages with water supplies, the sealed roads, bridges and flood protection that have been constructed.
"Bamyan remains one of the more secure provinces in Afghanistan. The Defence Force’s active engagement with the local population and our strong relationship with key leaders, coupled with development projects and community involvement, has helped to minimise influence from insurgents."
Lieutenant Colonel Sholto Stephens, Senior Military Adviser to the NZPRT and Commanding Officer of CRIB 21, says it has been a privilege to serve on the final rotation in Bamyan Province.
"The last contingent has been focused on building the capacity of Afghan National Security Forces through mentoring and training, and also helping to prepare Bamyan for the PRT’s withdrawal.
"The Afghan National Security Forces and the Provincial Government in Bamyan have been carrying out their role and demonstrating their capability for some time. It is the right time for the PRT to withdraw.
"Bamyan continues to face some challenges ahead – ensuring security is maintained, particularly in the North East, and that development progress continues. It is for Afghans in Bamyan to take forward their future."
Over 3,500 Defence Force personnel have deployed to Afghanistan since late 2001, with the majority serving in Bamyan Province with the NZPRT. Tragically, the Defence Force has lost ten soldiers in Afghanistan.
A new memorial was unveiled today in Bamian town. The memorial commemorates the eight Kiwi soldiers and the 23 men from the Afghan National Security Forces who died in Bamyan Province.
"New Zealand should be very proud of the work that our Defence Force men and women have achieved in Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province. It has however come at a price, and ten of our soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the service of others.
"We will always remember them, and our thoughts remain with their families and friends as they continue to mourn their loved ones. Today we unveiled a new memorial which we leave behind as a lasting tribute to our soldiers who died in Bamyan," adds LTGEN Jones.
The new memorial was funded by the NZPRT, constructed by PRT locally employed civilians and engraved locally in Bamian. It is located at the Provincial Operational Co-ordination Centre where Afghan National Police, National Directorate of Security, and Afghan National Army personnel operate.
The old memorial from Kiwi Base was blessed and removed to Dubai, the gateway where Defence Force personnel deploying to Afghanistan pass through. The memorial will eventually return to New Zealand.
There is also an ANZAC memorial in Kabul which commemorates the ten fallen Kiwis including the two NZSAS soldiers who lost their lives in Kabul.
Personnel from the twenty-first rotation will return to New Zealand later in April.
The New Zealand Defence Force will continue to support Afghanistan, with the deployment of 27 personnel, to ensure the progress made by the international community is sustained.
For more information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.
- A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was established in Bamyan Province to assist with providing a secure environment, enabling the facilitation of reconstruction and development.
- The Bamyan PRT was established in January 2003 and the NZ Defence Force subsequently took command in September 2003 with approximately 100 personnel.
- In the last decade, NZ Defence Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Police personnel in the PRT have maintained a good working relationship with other key elements in the PRT – including Defence personnel from the US, Singapore and more recently Malaysia, as well as civilian personnel from for example, the US State Department.
- The Defence Force has lost ten soldiers in Afghanistan: eight lost their lives in Bamyan Province - Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell, Private Kirifi Mila, Corporal Douglas Hughes, Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, Lance Corporal Rory Malone, Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, and Private Richard Harris. Corporal Douglas Grant and Lance Corporal Leon Smith lost their lives in Kabul.
- Bamyan Province was the first Province to transition in July 2011, marking the transfer of responsibility for provincial level security back to Afghan control.
- To date the NZ Defence Force has spent almost $300 million as result of its commitment in Afghanistan.
- In the last decade New Zealand has spent approximately $80.36 million on development in Afghanistan.
- NZ Police successfully concluded its seven year contribution to Bamyan at the end of 2012, providing training and mentoring to Afghan National Security Forces.
- Note – Whilst Bamyan Province is spelt with a ‘y’, Bamian the town in Bamyan Province is spelt with an ‘i’.