The head of the New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan has been recognised by the United States with its top honour for foreign officers.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parsons was presented with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal last week in Kabul.
New Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says it's testament to Lieutenant Colonel Parsons' leadership and also recognition of the work the entire SAS unit is doing in the Afghan capital.
Dr Mapp says each time he meets top American servicepeople they remark on the professionalism of the SAS unit.
He says the award is given for exceptional leadership over a sustained period of time.
Dr Mapp says it is the third time during his tenure as Defence Minister that the medal has been awarded to a New Zealander.