The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed around 80 military personnel alongside a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)-operated Lockheed C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft to Afghanistan to support the ongoing evacuation effort of eligible nationals from the country.
The deployed personnel include aircrew, a medical crew, operational support staff, logistics personnel, maintenance staff and force protection personnel. The RNZAF C-130H departed RNZAF Base Auckland, New Zealand, on August 19 to the Australian Defence Force’s main operating base in the UAE - Al Minhad Air Base, Dubai. The C-130H(NZ) will be performing evacuations flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, Afghanistan, bringing New Zealand citizens and other eligible nationals to the evacuation centre, and then on to New Zealand.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Adm Jim Gilmour said “It will be a challenging mission given the changing circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan. The NZDF personnel deploying on this mission, and those involved in the planning in New Zealand, are making every effort to help get New Zealanders and other eligible evacuees out of Afghanistan safely. We have included a medical team who will not only look after our deployed personnel but also those we help evacuate, as we have a duty of care for them while they are on our aircraft and in our care.”
A group of New Zealand citizens were evacuated via an Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)-operated Boeing C-17A Globemaster III to the UAE, assisted by the NZDF deployed personnel on August 22. Forward travel back to New Zealand is being arranged by agencies and partner nations. Currently another group of evacuees are waiting at the evacuation centre at HKAI. The RNZAF deployment is expected to last a month, although that could change due to requirements.