New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark has commended the work of New Zealand Defence Force personnel in the Middle East as he presented medals following completion of a year-long maritime surveillance mission.
CAPTION: Members of the New Zealand Defence Force maritime surveillance mission in the Middle East. Australian Defence Force photo.
Mr Mark presented the medals yesterday at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland in Whenuapai to 180 personnel who served in the Middle East in the past year.
NZDF completed the mission last month, flying more than 1000 hours and helping an international naval coalition seize heroin with an estimated value of $700 million.
NZDF sent a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and a 55-member detachment to the Middle East in February 2017 to work as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) for 12 months.
CMF is a 32-nation naval partnership seeking to promote security across 8.2 million square kilometres of international water, which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
It includes three combined task forces, which are focused on defeating global terrorism, preventing piracy and narcotics smuggling, and promoting a safe maritime environment.
After presenting the medals, Mr Mark commended the personnel on the 3.2 million square kilometres covered in patrols flown and the $700 million worth of drugs that would not end up financing terrorist operations.
“There is a bigger, ultimately greater picture and that is about our credibility as a nation in the eyes of our allies and our partners, in terms of your professionalism and performance,” Mr Mark said.
“Throughout your operation over the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean you provided a level of service that has earned you and New Zealand a reputation as exemplars in key roles at the highest levels – something that you should be enormously proud of and the government thanks you for.”
Chief of Air Force Air Vice Marshal Tony Davies thanked those who were posted to the Middle East, as well as the support crews in New Zealand.
“Thank you for coming together as a team, not only those who were deployed, but from every corner of this base – all of you who contributed. It couldn’t have been done without all of you,” Air Vice Marshal Davies said.
NZDF’s maritime surveillance mission in the Middle East
- Duration: 12 months
- Total flying hours: 1010
- Total missions completed: 135
- Contributed to four drug busts, worth $700 million.