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Minister of Defence's Speech at united states NAVY Presidential Unit Citation presentation 23 May 2007

23 May 2007

Presentation of the US NAVY Presidential Unit Citation

Speech by the Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Defence, to 1 NZSAS Group, Rennie Lines, Papakura

"It is a privilege to be here today to present the US Navy Presidential Unit Citation to members of the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Group 'for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty'.

This citation adds to the proud history of the Unit.

1st NZSAS prides itself on its discreet and unassuming nature. I know it does not seek or even welcome accolades. However, I believe that New Zealanders would want to be aware of, and acknowledge, your contribution and achievement.

In going into Afghanistan, you went into a dangerous and difficult environment. You were required to operate under threat of attack in a harsh and unforgiving landscape, withstand freezing temperatures and endure arduous living conditions.

You were separated and unable to make contact with loved ones at home.

Though no one on deployment when I have met with you has ever complained about any of these things, I recognize the impact and burden this places not only on you but also your families. It is important, in particular, to thank them and to recognise their devotion and commitment.

It is testament to your training and the high standards that you have set for yourselves that you were able to adapt quickly to a hostile environment and to conduct yourself in a way that embodied the finest traditions of military service.

Although this award is presented for the service of those involved in the initial deployment to Afghanistan in December of 2001 the 1st NZSAS has served three times in the region with distinction.

You have conducted numerous different missions and activities and as a small unit you have provided a capability out of all proportion to your physical size.

That you maintained a low level of casualties throughout these deployments, especially considering the circumstances in which you have operated is a tribute to the training and skill you have applied to these tasks.

The New Zealand Special Air Service Group represents a force of unique utility to New Zealand. You are deployable across a wide range of tasks within and outside New Zealand in counter terrorism and at the tough end of any deployment.

Special forces play a vital role in today's difficult environment. Your inherent agility, versatility, adaptability and responsiveness will ensure you will remain a relevant and critical capability to the NZ Defence Force and Government. Special Forces are ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs. The capability that you provide is what makes you special and ensures the strategic impact you can have.

I know that when we give you a task, you will carry it out with courage and skill, and you will achieve the outcome.

Thanks you for what you do.

Congratulations on your award. "

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