Infantry: April 29, 2002

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New Zealand And The War On Terror: New Zealand has contributed between 18 and 30 SAS troopers to support operations in Afghanistan. Though well equipped, they arrived without ground transportation and have had to borrow vehicles movement.

Several of the NZ SAS soldiers were involved in Operation Anaconda. They, along with Australian SAS and Norwegian forces, were inserted by air into the high mountains of Eastern Afghanistan and performed surveillance missions prior to the commitment of US and Canadian combat troops. Working from above the snowline in the mountains and taking cover in caves in the area, they spied on Taleban and Al-Qaeda forces as they assembled in the region. The SAS then guided the US and Canadian troops to the enemy locations.

The Kiwi and Australian SAS personnel had been conducting their surveillance missions for as long as two weeks prior to the start of the operation and they continued to provide observation and to direct air strikes throughout the operation. Toward the end of the operation, the SAS came under fire, but it was not known if the New Zealanders had been involved. The Australian defense forces confirmed their soldiers were involved in combat.

The New Zealand Government continues to decline comment on the activities of their SAS personnel. Other sources, however, report that SAS personnel have been working with a Canadian contingent in Khandahar and possibly also in the Gardez area.

The Australian and New Zealand SAS were selected for the surveillance mission because of security problems with the Afghan allies. The New Zealand SAS personnel are probably from one of the two Mountain Troops in the SAS and they are known internationally for having some of the best trackers in the world. They train extensively in the Southern Alps of the South Island.

 


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