22 Aug 2012

Assurance sought on wisdom of extending patrols

8:15 am on 22 August 2012

The Cabinet has asked the Defence Force for an assurance that extending patrols in Afghanistan is the right course of action.

Prime Minister John Key says he has been advised a wider New Zealand presence might help to prevent future bomb attacks in Bamiyan province, where New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team is based.

Five New Zealand soldiers have been killed in August, three when an improvised explosive device or IED went off.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman toldMorning Report that, given those five deaths, the Cabinet wants to ensure it is asking the right questions and making the right choices.

Mr Coleman says the Cabinet approved the extension of patrolling into neighbouring southern Baghlan province after the first two deaths, those of lance-corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone on 4 August, but he wouldn't want to continue along a path leading to more loss of life.

"We're now having some discussions and asking for the CDF's (Chief of Defence Force's) plan over how he would actually do that," Mr Coleman says, "and asking him to give us a view or think again on whether that is actually the best path ahead."