Security mission complete
Private Jurie Bender, a former Tawa College student, has returned to New Zealand after completing a six-month deployment to Timor-Leste, supporting the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF).
The contingent, from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and supporting units, was the last Defence Force rotation to serve with the force.
Private Bender, who has been in the NZ Army for more than five years, says he was kept pretty busy on deployment.
‘‘We did some good training and courses. Practising out on the range was the best.’’
It was the 24 year old’s second deployment to Timor-Leste.
‘‘ I was here in 2007- 08 and there was more stuff happening, we were doing lots of patrols on the streets as there was still some violence. Now it’s different, it’s all died down which is a good thing. The city is a lot cleaner, there’s even a mall here in Dili.’’
On getting home to New Zea- land, Private Bender says he was most looking forward to catching up with friends and family, but he wasn’t looking forward to the cold.
‘‘It barely rained the entire time in Dili.’’
A small theatre extraction team replaced the returning contingent, and it will work with the Australians to close down the bases and return military equipment over the next couple of months.
The security environment in Timor-Leste has remained calm and stable since the successful elections earlier this year, and the force has completed its security mandate so the Kiwis and Aussies are coming home.
The lower operational tempo of the deployment allowed the contingent to focus on training, on top of providing security to force bases and maintaining a Protected Mobility Vehicle Troop on standby to deploy a quick reaction force. Most of the contingent also had an opportunity to visit Cova Lima, where Defence Force personnel were deployed back in 1999-2002, and where Private Leonard Manning was killed – New Zealand’s first combat casualty since Vietnam.
Thirsty work: Private Jurie Bender making friends while on deployment to Timor-Leste.