5 Jul 2016

NZ troops to stay in Afghanistan until 2018

7:06 pm on 5 July 2016

New Zealand troops will spend another two years in Afghanistan helping to train local soldiers.

Afghan security forces - who have been engaged in ongoing fighting with Taliban fighters - travel in a Humvee in Kunduz on 28 September 2015.

Afghan security forces on patrol in Kunduz on 28 September 2015 (file). Photo: AFP

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said, since 2013, eight defence force staff had been stationed outside Kabul helping to train soldiers at the Afghan National Army Academy.

Since then, 1600 soldiers have graduated from the academy.

Cabinet has now committed New Zealand troops until the middle of 2018, and is increasing the number of trainers from eight to 10.

Mr Brownlee said the commitment by New Zealand helped support stability in the country and counter the threat of international terrorism.

The government has also extended its military training operation in Iraq by 18 months, with the existing deployment of up to 143 defence personnel to stay at Camp Taji until November 2018.

It also agreed to allow a small number of those personnel to provide training to stabilisation forces, such as the Iraqi federal police, in a second location near Taji.

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