18 September 2009

New Combat Kit for NZ Soldier

18 September 2009
NZ soldiers wearing the new protective equipment in pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. September 2009. OH 09-0562-013 (photo : DefenceNZ)

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) troops deploying to Afghanistan this October will be equipped with the latest, battle tested body armour and protective equipment.

The Army has invested in a variety of gear, from patrol packs to ballistic glasses, to ensure the modern soldier is equipped to do the job they need to do on operations overseas.

The improved body armour has been developed based on lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq. The body armour is a Special Forces variant and is currently in use with US Navy SEAL’s and US Army Rangers.

The protective equipment includes new, lighter combat helmets, improved body armour, ballistic goggles and gloves, modular webbing and pouches, an enhanced individual torch, ergonomic camelback patrol pack, and for some, an improved hand-held GPS unit.“While the soldier is the first part of Army capability, it is also about ensuring our soldiers are well-equipped to do the job they are required to do,” says the Chief of Army Major General Rhys Jones.“This new protective equipment will enable our soldiers to undertake the tasks and demands we require of them in a range of complex operational environments like Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.”

The equipment will be first used by NZDF personnel deploying to Afghanistan in October. Remaining missions will be supplied with equipment in order of threat level over the next six months.

“There are currently 790 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on 14 operations, UN missions and defence exercises in 10 countries around the world,” MAJ GEN Jones says.

“They are often twelve months away from their families and the Army is committed to investing in their safety by ensuring they have the equipment and training to achieve their goals to a world-class standard.”The new equipment is lighter, more comfortable and provides the wearer with enhanced ballistic and fragmentary protection. The modular system can also by personalised by the soldier in how they attach the pouches to their webbing.

The current operational pool of equipment will be distributed for wider Army training purposes as the new equipment is phased in.

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