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Last soldiers head to Afghanistan

15:00 Mon Sep 24 2012
The last New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Afghanistan will leave from Christchurch and Ohakea on Tuesday
The last New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Afghanistan will leave from Christchurch and Ohakea on Tuesday

The last batch of New Zealand soldiers to serve in Afghanistan will leave on Tuesday, including two dozen who will be there to organise the withdrawal.

About 140 service men and women will be part of the 21st six-month deployment to Afghanistan before New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is withdrawn in April next year.

New Zealand troops are in Afghanistan as part of the Nato-led security mission following the 2001 invasion by United States forces after the September 11 attacks.

The contingent, made up of personnel from 2nd 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and supporting units, will leave from Christchurch and Ohakea.

As well as the troops, a theatre extraction team of 24 personnel - essentially a mission closedown team - will be sent to Afghanistan, a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) spokeswoman said.

Their role would be to ensure equipment and personnel were extracted from Afghanistan in an orderly and timely manner, she said.

They will do a stocktake and identify what needs to be brought back to New Zealand, and what can be gifted to locals - items such as furniture.

"We cannot confirm further details on how NZDF will move larger items such as LAVs (light armoured vehicles). These plans are still being finalised."

Prime Minister John Key has said the eight or so LAVs in Afghanistan could be left to local Afghan forces.

Media have been invited to the Christchurch departure, where NZDF says staff will give an overview of the logistics of the withdrawal.

The first PRT deployment went to Afghanistan in 2003.

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