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Thank you for your service 

The following honour for troops in was mentioned in the in December 2004, but there has been little more news on it (“hat tip” to Silent Running), even after the approval by the government for the troops to wear the award.
   We should be proud of, or at least grateful for, these troops’ involvement in , which was supported by most in the wake of . They sought to do what we, as a nation, believed was right. As quoted at the NZDF medals’ site, on May 19, 2006:

Her Majesty The Queen has recently given Her approval for the unrestricted acceptance and wear of the following foreign award:

The Presidential Unit (USNPUC) by the New Zealand , for service in Afghanistan between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002.
   On 7 December 2004, , President of the , formally presented the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation to the New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) at a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. The United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to those units which comprised the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force—SOUTH/Task Force K-BAR (CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR) in Afghanistan between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002. These units were drawn from the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Australia, and Turkey. New Zealand was represented at the presentation ceremony by the Commanding Officer of the SAS.
   United States Navy Regulations state that the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation is ‘awarded in the name of the President of the United States of America to units of the United States Armed Forces and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. The unit must have accomplished its mission under such extremely difficult and hazardous conditions to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.’
   The award of the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation is an acknowledgment by the United States Government of the high value which is placed on the contribution made by the SAS to Operation Enduring Freedom. The missions undertaken by the SAS were performed within the operational area defined in the New Zealand General Service Medal (Afghanistan) Regulations 2002.
   , the , was the approving authority for the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation presented to CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR. Gordon England was among those who attended the 7 December 2004 presentation ceremony.
   Those eligible personnel may now wear the dress distinction of the USNPUC on the right breast. Personnel who served with the SAS in CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR during the period recognised by the unit citation (17 October 2001 to 30 March 2002) can wear the dress distinction at all times. Personnel who did not serve in Afghanistan with CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002, including those who joined the SAS after the end date for the citation, will only wear the dress distinction while they are serving with the unit.
   Stocks of the dress distinction are currently being sourced by HQNZDF, and will be available in due course from 1 NZSAS GP.

   At the time, it took my friend John Bowie at Lawfuel to first publicize the , before it got picked up the (The New Zealand Herald was one). But the government remained tight-lipped and has not provided any public praise for the SAS’s work. The Herald even reported: ‘ defence spokesman John Carter said he did not know about the award.’
   I know we have a and but that is no excuse to ignore the sacrifice made by these troops. Further, they need to know that a great many New Zealanders support and thank them for their service.
   This was not the war, and if people can cast their minds back to the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, we were far more positive about our involvement in ridding Afghanistan of the .
   Of course, some must be maintained for any nation’s special forces’ regiments, but when a musician on the Queen’s Birthday Honours’ List gets more congratulatory comments from the government than troops who put their lives on the line, then you have to wonder.
   We’ve had nearly two years for the to thank the SAS.
   Even Keith Locke of the Green Party issued a press release. The release began, ‘The Government seems to be embarrassed by George Bush’s award to the New Zealand SAS, says Green MP Keith Locke.’ Mr Locke continued, ‘But it is laughable when they hide the fact that George Bush has given our special forces an award; what are they embarrassed about?’ (However, Mr Locke is concerned about the prospect that New Zealand troops contributed to —but in any case, let us have some .)
   I can put up with the and related humour (to an extent), but to be so biased as to not celebrate this award is shameful—especially as the government engages in hypocrisy with an all-out service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on and again on Day. Even giving ammunition for the likes of Mr Locke is something that should be expected, and accepted, in a .
   New Zealanders must wonder if they get the complete story, for all the Prime Minister’s appearance of candour.
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