New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel in Afghanistan have recovered and disposed of more than 1200 individual high explosive items during four months in theatre.
The New Zealand Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NZEOD) team are part of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) in Bamyan Province, responsible for the recovery and disposal of landmines, sub-munitions, mortars, rockets, artillery and bombs.
The majority of the items are found by local people while they plant crops or tend sheep, and they often walk many kilometres to report their finds to the Kiwi Base.
NZEOD team leader Sergeant Craig Harnett says the New Zealand soldiers frequently see locals with missing fingers and limbs, and ridding the country of unexploded ordnance is a daunting task.
“Even though we’re the tenth rotation of NZDF personnel to Bamyan Province there are still huge quantities of munitions being discovered every day in our area of operations. The Russians and the Taliban blanketed this area with explosive items during times of conflict. It’s really sad to hear about children being killed while playing and the Afghan people are desperate to make their villages safe. We educate the people so they do not handle the explosives themselves and they know to come and find us. Every item we dispose of prevents someone being hurt or killed.”
There are 122 New Zealand Defence Force personnel involved in the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan today.
Currently 733 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are deployed on 17 operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world.