The New Zealand Defence Force will conclude its 20-year deployment to Afghanistan by May.
The final six personnel, three deployed at the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy and three deployed at the NATO Resolute Support Mission Headquarters, will head home.
“After 20 years of a NZDF presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment,” Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement with Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare.
“The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest running in our history, and I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered,” Ardern said.
Mahuta said the withdrawal of the NZDF comes after discussions with key partners.
“Although the environment remains complex, the intra-Afghan peace process affords Afghanistan the best prospect of an enduring political solution,” she said.
New Zealand had helped ‘establish the conditions for the current intra-Afghan peace process” and “improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province”, Henare said.
“Another important element of New Zealand’s support for Afghanistan has been our contribution to training and mentoring a new generation of officers in the Afghanistan Army,” he said.
“The success of the mentoring programme being conducted with the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy means it is now self-sufficient enough for New Zealand’s contribution there to conclude.”