More NZ Soldiers to Bosnia

  • Paul East

A group of up to 15 soldiers from the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery will serve with the British part of the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia (SFOR) in early 1998, Defence Minister Paul East announced today.

"This contribution underlines our ongoing support for the peace process in Bosnia," Mr East said. "The presence of SFOR is helping the people of Bosnia return to a normal life."

The New Zealand contingent would serve with the UN-mandated SFOR operation for six months from 1 January.

The latest contribution follows a decision made by the New Zealand Government in December last year to send seven staff officers to serve with the British Headquarters of SFOR for up to 18 months. SFOR comprises some 30 thousand people and has the job of preventing renewed violence and creating an environment for economic reconstruction and political reconciliation.

Mr East said the artillery deployment would be of benefit to both the New Zealand Defence Force and the British Armed Forces.

"It will build on the excellent working relationships established during the deployment of Kiwi Company to the former Yugoslavia in 1994 and 1995, and the contribution of staff officers to SFOR.

"This is a rare opportunity to provide operational experience for an element of the New Zealand Army while helping the British Army at a time when it is facing many operational demands.

"The New Zealand deployment would be integrated with the 26th Regiment of the Royal Artillery which was due to deploy to Bosnia in January," he said.