27 Jan 2010

SAS role in Kabul fighting outlined

3:06 pm on 27 January 2010

The Chief of the Defence Force says to the best of his knowledge New Zealand's SAS troops currently in Afghanistan have not fired a shot in anger.

The Government on Tuesday issued limited details of their deployment, following the publication last week of a photograph of Corporal Willie Apiata, VC, on duty in Kabul.

Lieutenent General Jerry Mateparae says Corporal Apiata and other SAS members played a very limited role in dealing with an attack by the Taliban on 18 January.

He said the SAS played a support and liaison role - backing up Afghan troops as they fought the insurgents. He indicated on a map of the combat zone when and where New Zealand troops had been.

Other SAS operations were also outlined - including seizing rockets, reconnaissance and training.

Although they have come under fire, the SAS are yet to fire their weapons in anger. But Prime Minister John Key warns that may change.

New Zealand has committed the SAS to Afghanistan for up to 18 months, with the first of three deployments of six months now almost at an end.