It’s great to learn the New Zealand Defence Force has taken its light armoured vehicles out of active duty in Afghanistan ahead of the final pull-out of the provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan later this month.
It’s time we got out of that benighted country.
Dunno why the military was reluctant initially to make the pull-out public, but as Stuff tells us here, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has confirmed the withdrawal.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Weston, who is overseeing the process, says in all 470 tonnes of equipment will be taken out, requiring 35 C130 Hercules flights and about 100 truck loads, mainly to Bagram.
Anything worth saving is being taken back to New Zealand. However, some non-military equipment – or gear not worth the cost of shipment – will be left for the local security forces taking over the base.
A memorial to the 10 soldiers lost in Afghanistan has already been moved to New Zealand’s Dubai headquarters.
By May the only remaining symbol of New Zealand’s 10 years at the head of the Bamiyan PRT will be a new memorial in the township unveiled in the presence of Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae yesterday.
More curious is the news that 30 interpreters from Afghanistan and their immediate families are being resettled in New Zealand (see here).
That’s fine with Alf.
And the interpreters obviously are looking forward to coming here.
One of the interpreters heading to New Zealand, Asadullah Rezai, 25, said he had worked for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan for more than three years and was excited to be coming.
He would bring his wife Najiba, who planned to go to university, and his three-year-old son Mahdi.
“We will go to NZ first thing because of safety and second … for a very good future for my kid.”
But these interpreters will be living in Hamilton by the beginning of June under the Government’s offer to resettle them.
All up, about 95 Afghans will arrive on April 22 and spend six weeks at the Mangere refugee centre before being resettled close together in Hamilton.
The offer was made to interpreters to recognise their contribution to New Zealand’s work in Afghanistan but also because they could be in danger from insurgents once international forces withdraw.
The Taliban are reported to have threatened to kill or capture those who worked for coalition forces, although Asadullah Rezai said he had not been directly threatened himself.
But Alf would have given serious thought to taking his chances with the Taliban, rather than settle in Hamilton.
Anyone else coming here?
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said the Government would act with goodwill towards two or three others who were outside the existing criteria, but there were no guarantees they would be included.
Being outside the existing criteria probably means they will get something even worse than Hamilton.
Coleman said the interpreters all speak English. This was the biggest factor in successful resettlement.
But for the interpreters the biggest issue was opportunities for their children and they had been “ecstatic” they were coming to New Zealand.
Obviously they have not heard of what lies in store for them in Hamilton or Auckland.
The aforementioned Asadullah Rezai said he was not able to serve his country because of insurgents.
“Maybe when we get to New Zealand and I finish education maybe after five or six years I come back and serve my country again.”
Alf is taking bets in the Eketahuna Club that he will be taking his family home to Afghanistan long before then.