Kiwi troops will stick to timetable
Sun, 26 Aug 2012 11:18a.m.
New Zealand soldiers cannot be withdrawn from Afghanistan any earlier than April despite reports the Taliban see Kiwi troops as easy targets, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says.
After a bloody month for the New Zealand armed forces in which five soldiers were killed in the province of Bamyan, the Taleban's Zabiullah Mujahid promised more bloodshed for Kiwi troops.
The Afghan militia spokesman was quoted as saying New Zealanders do not have strong weapons like the Americans or British.
"We will find them and kill them, there's no safety for them," he said in an interview with a Herald on Sunday correspondent in Kabul.
Mr Coleman told Q+A today that the Taliban naturally would want to unsettle the New Zealand public but accepted the mission had become more dangerous.
"I'm concerned for the safety of our people but the New Zealand Defence Force and the Government always realised that this was a dangerous deployment and that there were risks.
"We were prepared for this eventuality - we hoped it would never happen but we are prepared to stick to the course because we can't just cut and run and lose the gains that we have made over a decade. While it's very tragic it doesn't deflect us from our path in Bamyan."
He said it took time for the troops to pack up and leave and the NZDF was sticking to its timetable to withdraw by April. It was important to finish the job of bedding in major aid programmes and training the local security forces.
"People who think we can suddenly go now are actually wrong. If we did we would be leaving behind a mess and that would not honour the sacrifice of our 10 dead soldiers in Afghanistan."
The Taliban said the families of the dead soldiers should pressure the Government to pull out.
"The families of those killed should tell their government to stop fighting, otherwise we will send more bodies of soldiers back to New Zealand."
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26/08/2012 9:42:40 p.m.
Adrian, Maori soldiers are the most reliable and committed soldiers in the world. There is no way they would accept for them to be removed from theater before the remainder.
26/08/2012 7:15:43 p.m.
At the very least withdraw the Maori troops from the now occupation campaign in Afghanistan, Maori have already sustained a great toll; is that what the governments (Crowns) intentions really is? After all occupation of Aotearoa doesn't sit well with Maori does it?
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