TONGAN SOLDIERS WELCOMED HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN

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3rd contingent deployed in late November

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 10, 2011) – Tonga's second contingent of 55 soldiers returned safely to Tonga after six-months duty in Afghanistan and were greeted by happy families at the Fua'amotu International Airport, on December 9.

The contingent led by Commander Sione Fifita arrived on a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft at 3:30pm and were formally welcomed by Lord Ma'afu and the Commander of the Tonga Defence Services, Brigadier General Tau'aika 'Uta'atu.

Cmdr. Fifita told Matangi Tonga Online on December 9, that the second contingent of 55 soldiers had completed a successful deployment to Afghanistan, where they carried out base security at the British Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan.

"The only challenge we faced was the hot weather there, because at times it went up to 45 degrees celcius, but apart from the hot weather, the contingent performed our duty well and were safe," he said.

The second contingent handed over duties to Tonga's third contingent of 55 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in late November, and led by Lt Col. Tongapo'uli Aleamotu'a assisted by Lt. Cmdr. Brisbane Lokotui and Lt. Kiu Kaho.The third contingent underwent eight weeks pre-deployment training in the United Kingdom.

It is understood that Tonga will be sending a fourth contingent to Afghanistan, around April, 2012.

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