24 Aug 2012

Tonga extends military presence in Afghanistan until 2014

2:22 pm on 24 August 2012

The Tongan military involvement in Afghanistan is to be extended until 2014.

Currently 55 personnel are deployed in six monthly rotations to provide perimeter security at Britain's Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

Acting Defence Services Commander Captain Toni Fonokalafi says there will be a review of the deployment in 2013 with risk to troops a factor in the decision.

Hamish Cardwell has more:

"Captain Fonokalafi says the decision to extend military involvement was not made for financial reasons but to support the UK troops in the defence of the base. However, earlier this year the deputy secretary of government, Alfred Soakai, said the Afghan contingent provides Tonga with 2 point 4 million US dollars in remittances. Tonga has had troops at the camp since 2010. The decision to extend Tongan military engagement was made despite five New Zealand troops killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks. Captain Fonokalafi says the New Zealand troops are in a more risky area of Afghanistan than the Tongan personnel."