25 Aug 2017

NZ to send more defence personnel to Afghanistan

12:34 pm on 25 August 2017

New Zealand will send three more non-combat Defence Force personnel to Afghanistan.

Afghan security forces - who have been engaged in ongoing fighting with Taliban fighters - travel in a Humvee in Kunduz on 28 September 2015.

Afghan security forces - who have been engaged in ongoing fighting with Taliban fighters - travel near Kunduz in September 2015. Photo: AFP

The government has been considering a request from the United States, made in May on behalf of the NATO-led force, to send more people.

The decision comes days after US President Donald Trump promised a stepped-up military campaign in Afghanistan against Taliban insurgents, who have gained ground against US-backed Afghan government forces.

Defence Minister Mark Mitchell said two of the military officers would work at the NATO mission's headquarters in Kabul and the third at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy as a physical training instructor.

New Zealand withdrew its final Provincial Reconstruction Team from Afghanistan in 2013, but 10 officers are still there helping train Afghan troops.

"A deteriorating security situation has prompted the international community to refocus its efforts. Countries around the globe are making decisions to increase contributions to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist organisations.

"New Zealand will continue to stand alongside our partners in supporting stability in Afghanistan and countering the threat of international terrorism," Mr Mitchell said in a statement.

Prime Minister Bill English said terrorism from Afghanistan could pose a threat to New Zealand.

"It's all about New Zealand playing its part in a global effort to smother the sources of terrorism, because Afghanistan was seen in that light and still remains potentially a very unstable environment that could generate terrorist activities that put our citizens at risk."

There was no indication there would be a request for more combat troops to Afghanistan, he said.