New Zealand will wrap up military mission in Afghanistan

New Zealand has announced that the country will conclude its military mission in Afghanistan by May 2021.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, and Defense Minister Peeni Henare announced Wednesday morning that the country will conclude “its deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to Afghanistan by May 2021.”

“After 20 years of an NZDF presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“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 3,500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered,” Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta stated that although the environment remains complex, the intra-Afghan peace process affords Afghanistan the best prospect of an enduring political solution.

“New Zealand’s decision to conclude its deployment to Afghanistan in 2021 has been discussed with our key partners, with whom we have cooperated closely over the last twenty years,” she said.

“New Zealand will continue to be supportive of the Afghan Government and its people in the years to come, including as they work through the intra-Afghan peace process in an effort to resolve the decades-long conflict,” Nanaia added.

Meanwhile, the country’s Defense Minister Peeni Henare said the current deployment consists of six NZDF personnel – three deployed to the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy, and three deployed to the NATO Resolute Support Mission Headquarters.

“Together with our partners, New Zealand helped to establish the conditions for the current intra-Afghan peace process. We’ve supported regional security, and helped to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province.

“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. The success of the mentoring program being conducted with the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy means it is now self-sufficient enough for New Zealand’s contribution there to conclude,” Henare said.