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Members of the New Zealand Defense Force provincial reconstruction team prepare for deployment in Afghanistan by role-playing meetings with village headmen.

Lieutenant Rosie Mercer is a qualified engineer who will lead the New Zealand Defense Force's provincial reconstruction team which will build roads, dig wells, construct clinics and schools in the central Afghanistan province of Bamyan. They'll be protected by a contingent of soldiers but it's not just the Taliban who present problems. Village headmen, conditioned by over 30 years of war, can be suspicious of foreigners and difficult to liaise with. Yet their co-operation is essential if reconstruction work is to proceed.

Using role-play techniques involving sitting cross-legged and drinking endless cups of tea, Rosie and her liaison officers are trained to develop the kind of diplomacy, patience and stamina they'll need in the village setting. As well as the daily frustrations they'll also be working at high altitude in a province where roads are nothing more than tracks and temperatures range from 40 degrees in summer to -30 in winter.

Spectrum's Jack Perkins eavesdrops on the training.


Photos NZ Defence Force