C-130 Hercules to depart for the Middle East

Earlier in the week, the Government  announced the deployment of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel to the Middle East to assist with the international evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, including of New Zealanders and other approved foreign nationals, Minister of Defence Peeni Henare said.

This morning, the NZDF deployed personnel and a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130 Hercules aircraft departing from RNZAF Base Auckland. NZDF have advised that due to the developing situation it is now expected that up to 80 personnel will be deployed to support the international response.

At this stage, the NZDF is preparing to deploy for up to a month. The contingent will include air crew and maintenance staff, a medical team, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection, among others.

“New Zealand has had a long-standing relationship with the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province. Because of this, we are joining our partners in assisting with the evacuation of those who are in the greatest danger,” Peeni Henare said.

“We will be working alongside partner militaries, such as our ally Australia, as we respond to this rapidly evolving humanitarian situation. This means that we may see some individuals bound for New Zealand, returned on Australian/partner’s assets, and vice versa, as partners look to cooperate wherever they can to safely expedite the evacuation.

Cabinet provided an exemption for the C-130 Hercules flight when considering alert level changes. All deploying personnel have been vaccinated, and there will be protections in place throughout the mission, including the use of PPE.

“The safety of our people is of the utmost importance during this unfolding situation,” Peeni Henare said.