Commander NATO forces visits New Zealand

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and Gen. Jerry Mateparae, New Zealand Chief of Defence, stand on top of Mount Victoria, in Wellington, New Zealand, during an official visit by Stavridis to the country April 11-12. (Official NATO photos by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stefanie Antosh)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand ~~ Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe signs the guest book of the New Zealand National War Memorial after a wreath laying ceremony during a visit to the region April 11-12. Stavridis is in the area to thank New Zealand forces for their work with NATO forces. (Official NATO photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stefanie Antosh)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The commander of NATO's operational forces visited  New Zealand  April 11-12 to meet with New Zealand government officals in order to discuss the mission in Afghanistan.

U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, Supreme Commander Allied Powers Europe, met with the Honourable Mr. John McKinnon, Secretary of Defence Force; the Honourable Dr. Wayne Mapp, Minister of Defence; Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae, Chief of Defence Force; and the Honourable Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the capital to discuss their country's role in the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

"We wanted to come to one of the most important ISAF partners we have, which is contributing across the spectrum of operations in Afghanistan,” said Stavridis. "New Zealand is contributing a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the north in Bayman, training the Afghan Security Forces (ANSF), which is perhaps the most important we have, and contributing to the special operations' role”

New Zealand maintains a presence of 220 service members and civilians participating throughout the Afghanistan region.

"The kiwis are doing an outstanding job in Afghanistan and I wanted to come and say thank you and have a conversation with the senior security leadership and communicate to them how happy we are with the participation and good work that the kiwis are doing in Afghanistan,” said Stavridis.

Stavridis also thanked law enforcement organizinations in Afghanistan for their work in the region.
"My sense is that we are turning a corner in Afanghanistan and over the next 12-24 months and we are going to see significant progress by the Afghan Security Forces,” Stavridis said. "We are seeing improvements in their performance as recently as last week when we saw the Afghan National Police stop a ring of half a dozen suicide bombers trying to come into Kabul, we are seeing strong progress by the Afghan National Army in the south, in Helmand and Kandahar. What's really important is the training of the ANSF and we continue to look for cooperation from New Zealand in that regard as well"

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