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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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4th Tongan Troop Contingent To Afghanistan Returns Home
Soldiers on six-month rotations to Middle East

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 20, 2012) – Tonga's fourth contingent of 55 soldiers to Afghanistan returned safely to Tonga on Friday 16 November, after six-months duty in Helmand Province, under a NATO led-mission.

Medals of recognition will be presented to Tonga's fourth and third contingent to Afghanistan, by Rt. Hon. Andrew Robathan MP, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, in a special ceremony at Taliai Camp, Fua'amotu, on Thursday 22 November.

Commander Solomone Savelio, who led the fourth contingent, said he was happy that they had completed a successful deployment to Afghanistan, considering the security threats there.

The Tongan troops carried out base security at the British Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan.

He said their mission was different to previous Tongan deployments due to an attack on the camp in September. The Tongan troops were not harmed but they stood their ground and did what they were trained to do.

"I am proud of the contingent, including the first three women to have taken part on a deployment to Afghanistan, and who performed their duties well," he said.

The contingent handed over duties at the camp, to the fifth contingent led by Captain Toni Fonokalafi earlier this month.

Tonga's fifth contingent went to the United Kingdom on September 14, for pre-deployment training before Afghanistan.

Recognition

Commander Savelio said the visit of Rt. Hon. Andrew Robathan would include an audience with the king and the Tongan Government to thank them for the decision to extend Tonga's deployment to Afghanistan, for two more years.

Tonga started sending contingents of 55 soldiers to Afghanistan in 2010, in response to an invitation by the British government. The Tongan troops are on a six-months rotation, where they come under the command of the NATO-led mission.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/
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