In recent times, the NZDF has made significant and positive contributions to regional peace support operations in Timor Leste, Bougainville and Solomon Islands. Although the Bougainville mission has ended and we have only a residual presence in Timor Leste, the NZDF continues to maintain a high operational tempo. New Zealand's contributions to Afghanistan and Iraq over the last three years have seen the NZDF work within multi-national frameworks in high threat environments. New Zealand's ongoing commitment to the international campaign against terrorism has involved the deployment of force elements from all three services to the Middle East and Central Asia.
The initial phase of the Regional Assistance Mission in Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in July 2003 involved the deployment of an infantry company, four helicopters and logistics, communications, engineers, support and medical personnel. The NZDF has also continued to maintain a wide range of contributions to international peace support operations, including in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Sinai Peninsula, and to demining operations in Mozambique and Cambodia. In addition, the NZDF is involved in a number of smaller peace support operations.
Advice is provided to ministers on NZDF operational commitments through the following:
- Meetings involving appropriate ministers and their staff as security issues arise.
- An Assessments Group comprising intelligence officials, which provides briefings and assessments.
- A Watch Group chaired by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet comprising officials from the relevant departments which coordinates and provides policy advice to senior officials.
- The Senior Executives' Group (of which the Secretary of Defence and Chief of Defence are members), which provides advice to ministers.
The Chief of Defence Force provides updates, briefing and advice on operational matters to the Minister of Defence and Cabinet when required.
- The Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force who provide advice, briefing and submissions for approval of all deployments and on policy matters.
New Zealand is a small but valuable coalition partner in the campaign against terrorism. NZDF personnel have been deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom and we provide a range of military capabilities to the operation. We provide staff officers for the NATO-led headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the US led Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan (CFC-A) both located in Kabul, as well as the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters (CJTF HQ) in Bagram. New Zealand is also contributing special forces to Operation Enduring Freedom.
The NZDF commenced humanitarian assistance by establishing an NZDF Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) based in the Bamyan province in September 2003. Now in its sixth rotation, the team has been actively engaging with New Zealand and international humanitarian organisations to provide a secure environment where meaningful reconstruction and assistance can be given. The PRT has assisted with support for voter registration for the Presidential election during 2004, provided training assistance to indigenous security forces prior to the Parliamentary Elections which took place in September 2005, and supported the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration process for former Afghan fighters. New Zealand's PRT has been widely praised, becoming the model for other nations as they establish PRTs across Afghanistan.
Two NZDF personnel have been providing training assistance to the Afghan National Army. A number of staff officers continue to serve at US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, and NZDF support personnel are also based in the Gulf region as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In addition to our commitments to ISAF, CFC-A and the CJTF, New Zealand also provides one UN Military Liaison Officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan.
HMNZS TE MANA completed a tour of operational duty in the Arabian Gulf region in 2004. It assisted in the conduct of maritime interdiction operations in support of the international campaign against terrorism. This deployment complemented the previous operations conducted by HMNZ ships Te Mana and Te Kaha, an Air Force P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules and service personnel attached to various headquarters and units in the Arabian Gulf region.
In April 2003 Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kamakeza, asked Australia for assistance in restoring law and order. Australia responded positively, and sought participation from New Zealand and other regional partners. Our contribution, at its peak in August 2003, comprised 226 personnel and four Iroquois helicopters.
The first phase of RAMSI has been successful, with law and order having been returned to Solomon Islands. As a result, the overall military presence in Solomon Islands has been reduced. For the next two years a small number of New Zealand military personnel on a rotational basis with Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, will provide a platoon in Solomon Islands. An NZDF platoon will commence a rotation in Solomon Islands in February 2006. New Zealand currently provides the Deputy Force Commander to the mission.
The security environment in Timor Leste remains stable. The United Nations Security Council extended the United Nations Mission in East Timor in May 2004 for a further 12 months; this mission has now been subsumed into the United Nations Office for Timor Leste (UNOTIL). The extended mission has been scaled down. It has been given a modified mandate to sustain, strengthen and build upon the gains already made to assist Timor Leste to attain self-sufficiency. One NZDF officer is currently serving with the downsized UN mission as a United Nations Military Adviser.
New Zealand strongly supports the Timor Leste Government's efforts to improve its own defence and security capabilities. We have up to three personnel providing bilateral training and advisory support to the Timorese National Defence Force (F-FTDL). The NZDF has also assisted the F-FTDL by providing a small arms training team. The NZDF has established a mutual assistance programme with Timor Leste that commenced with a needs analysis in mid 2005.
New Zealand responded quickly to the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people in the post-war period. Initially, two NZDF personnel were deployed to Iraq as part of United Nations Mine Action Service operations. Following the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 on 22 May 2003, New Zealand contributed 61 NZDF engineers and support staff for twelve months to work alongside British forces in southern Iraq. The engineering group completed its mission in Iraq in September 2004.
New Zealand has one UN Military Liaison Officer attached to the United Nations Assistance Mission Iraq (UNAMI).
The balance of the NZDF current peace operations, as of September 2005, comprise:
- European Union Force, Bosnia (EUFOR) - Three NZDF officers are stationed in Bosnia, serving as staff officers at the resident British divisional headquarters. Eight NZDF personnel are serving with the EUFOR as one of the Liaison and Observation Teams.
- UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) - Eight military observers are deployed with UNTSO in Israel, Lebanon and Syria, serving in various observer posts and staff appointments throughout the region. Major General Clive Lilley holds the appointment of UNTSO Chief of Staff.
- Multinational Force and Observers, Sinai (MFO) - The NZDF maintains its joint contribution of 26 personnel to the MFO in the Sinai, including a training advisory team, heavy transport section and headquarters staff.
- UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) - One NZDF officer is deployed to Kosovo as the senior military liaison officer for Pristina.
- UN Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) - New Zealand provides three officers to the mission in Korea where they are employed in the operations and movement control areas.
- Sudan - The NZDF contribution to this mission, consists of two UN Military observers who deployed in mid September 2005 and once the UN led HQ is established, one staff officer who will deploy mid October 2005.
Other operations cover:
- Antarctica - C-130 Hercules aircraft have in the past, provided an average of 15 return flights between Christchurch and McMurdo Base each year. Due to the commencement of the C-130 upgrade programme the number of flights will reduce to 12. Terminal operations teams at Christchurch and McMurdo support the Antarctic programme.
- The NZDF delivers annually a range of non-military services to the Government and the community using the capabilities developed for military tasks. Examples are: disaster relief, search and rescue, EEZ surveillance, ceremonial support, VIP air transport and support to the Police.