29 Jul 2010

Tonga to launch recruitment drive for soldiers

3:22 pm on 29 July 2010

Tonga is to recruit more soldiers over the next couple of months after agreeing to a British request to send troops to Afghanistan.

270 Tonga marines, in four rotations, are to provide security at Britain's Camp Bastion base in Helmand province, from this November.

Britain is to pay the costs involved in the deployment.

The Tonga Defence Service's Joint Operations Commander, Colonel Siamelie Latu, who will lead the first contingent, says they intend launching a recruitment campaign to build up numbers.

"At the moment we should be able to accommodate the two years' deployment, but of course we need soldiers to look after the fort here in Tonga, and yes, it has been approved to increase the number of soldiers. We are going to recruit more in the next couple of months."

Colonel Siamelie Latu.

There are presently around 700 personnel in the Defence Service but Tonga correspondent says the Government envisages the army doubling in size.