MILITARY HONORS TO KIWI SPECIAL SERVICE SOLDIERS SHOW US/NZ RIFT HEALING
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – LawFuel.com – President George W Bush has awarded commendations to New Zealand’s Special Air Services (SAS) commander Peter Kelly on December 7, when the country’s special forces were commended for their efforts in support of the United States war effort in Afghanistan.
The recognition, at least the second for the New Zealand SAS evidences a continuing thaw in the previously strained relations between the two countries over the ANZUS, anti-nuclear rift.
The commendation was delivered to SAS commander Lieutenant Colonel Kelly who heads New Zealand’s elite military unit.
New Zealand Defense Minister Mark Burton’s office today confirmed that the President had presented a unit citation to members of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, which consists of units from the United States and New Zealand, as well as Canada, Denmark, Germany and Norway. Australia’s SAS also operates in Afghanistan.
The SAS have played special reconnaissance roles involving the collection and reporting of military intelligence relating to identifying and targeting enemy forces.
Their operations have reported to US commanders in the country.
The SAS comprises two, identical ‘sabre’ fighting squadrons, as well as a combat school, support squadron and headquarters staff.
New Zealand’s second highest defence intelligence officer, lieutenant colonel Mike Hickman, was nominated in 2003 for the US bronze star medal for “meritorious achievement in connection with combat operations”.
Although the New Zealand Government has said nothing of the award, it is believed to be awaiting Royal approval prior to making a formal, public announcement for the acceptance and wearing of the award.
© LawFuel 2004