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Contingent to join NATO forces

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 30, 2010) – Tonga's first contingent of 55 soldiers will be deployed into Afghanistan in mid-December to support a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Armed Forces Mission (ISAF) there, after completing pre-deployment training in the United Kingdom.

The 1st Tongan Contingent will be based with about 20,000 British troops and U.S. Marines in Helmand Province where they will be conducting force protection and security on the boundaries of the Camp Bastion.

The training currently underway in the United Kingdom will be completed by the second week of December, according to a statement from the Tongan High Commissioner in London, His Excellency Dr Sione Ngongo Kioa, who visited the troops at the Training Centre in Colchester, Essex, on November 24. Half of the Tongan troops are being instructed there by officers from the Royal Air Force Regiments and the other half of the Tongan troops were at other training areas.

They met Commander Satisi Vunipola, Major Tevita Siu Fifita and RAF officers. The Tongan troops have been equipped with uniforms, ammunition and provided with accommodation and daily allowances as part of an agreement with the British Government.

The Tonga High Commission in London, stated that "Tonga's contribution of military personnel will support NATO's led Security Mission into Afghanistan by assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in exercising and extending its authority and influence across the country, paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance."

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