2 Feb 2011

Former Army chief supports SAS move

5:48 pm on 2 February 2011

A former Defence Force chief is supporting a longer stay in Afghanistan by New Zealand's elite SAS troops, saying their work is not yet done.

The SAS deployment had been due to end in March but the Government has extended the troops' presence in Kabul for a further year, with reduced numbers.

About 70 Special Air Service soldiers are now stationed in Kabul, but that number will be cut to about 35.

The Labour and Green parties are critical of the extension, however several defence academics spoken to by Radio New Zealand back the Government's move.

And the former Chief of the Army, Major General Lou Gardiner, says it would be a mistake for the SAS to leave.

He says those who are against the extension would likely also be critical if there was more violence if they left when planned earlier.

A decision about the separate Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan province will be made in the coming months.