Military messages of peace

They might be thousands of miles from their loved ones this festive season, but Defence Force personnel posted overseas are clearly not devoid of Christmas cheer.

Personnel posted in Sinai, Afghanistan, Antarctica, South Korea, South Sudan and the Solomon Islands have put together Christmas messages to wish New Zealand a happy holiday season, and to say ‘hi’ to their families back home.

There are currently 278 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on 14 operations and UN missions across 12 countries.

This is a smaller number than previous years with the recent withdrawal from Timor-Leste. 

Afghanistan still hosts the biggest deployment with 192 personnel in Bamiyan Province, however, this will be the last Christmas that troops will be posted there.

The Defence Force is also collecting messages to send back to troops, whether they be from family members of the general public.

Through the defence website, people can send electronic messages which will arrive at each overseas mission in time for Christmas Day.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Dave Gawn said it was important to remember those serving overseas during the festive season.

"Being away from families is never easy, especially at Christmas, and our personnel do appreciate thoughts and best wishes from the New Zealand public.

"Please take the time to let our people know you’re thinking about them this festive season," he said.

"I’m proud of everything our deployed personnel have achieved this year and of the hard work our people have put in to maintaining stability and a secure environment in 12 countries throughout the world.

"It has been a difficult year with the tragic losses in Afghanistan, and our thoughts this Christmas will be with the families and friends of our fallen."