NZ War heroes at the NZ memorial.
REDEPLOYS NZTO KOREA FGOFF Dan Abel outside the TC West offices.
In 1950 the NZ Armed Forces dispatched personnel to assist in the Korean War, this deployment was known as Kayforce. Fifty years on NZ Armed forces returned to the front lines, fewer in number and with the right equipment. North Korea is still there, though they are no longer shooting at us. FGOFF Dan Abel reports.
In 2004 NZ agreed to send one Major (equivalent) Officer to be part of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission Operations team. The UNC MAC is one of three commissions established with the signing of the Armistice Agreement in 1953. This is the agreement that confirmed a ceasefire between north and south Korea. The MAC is the only commission that remains intact and functioning today as it was originally designed all those years ago – at least in South Korea.
The other two commissions established were the Neutral Nations Repatri- ation Commission, NNRC, and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, NNSC. The NNRC was created to oversee the return of POW’s immediately after the signing of the Armistice Agreement. Once this task was completed the commission was disbanded. The NNSC was established to monitor the Armistice Agreement outside of the Demilitarized Zone, commonly known as the DMZ. The DMZ is the buffer zone that, under the Armistice Agreement, provides a separation of opposing forces. It is 241km long (coast to coast) and 4 km wide. Its position is in approximate relation to the 38th parallel, which was the border prior to the 1950 Korean War.
The NNSC was originally made up of Swiss, Swedish, Polish and Czecho- slovakian members. The Swiss and Swedish were selected by the United Nations Command as their ‘neutral nations’ and the Polish and Czechoslova- kian were selected by North Korea. The former two countries lived in South Korea and the latter two in North Korea. The Swiss and Swedish were never allowed to properly monitor the Armistice in North Korea, as they were supposed to, therefore the UNC eventually gave up and stopped the Polish and Czech’s inspecting in the South. The Polish and Czechs were eventually ejected from the North. These days the Swiss and Swedes maintain their camp in the south side of the DMZ. They are joined a few times a year by a Polish delegation, which arrive through Seoul. The NNSC provides an important, yet symbolic, international presence.
And this leaves the MAC. The MAC was established to monitor the Armi- stice Agreement and report Armistice Violations within the DMZ to their respective commanders. The MAC in the north, for a number of reasons is no
longer functional. The MAC in the south, UNC MAC, still functions. A/LTCDR Karl Gill RNZN is the current New Zealand Officer filling the Major (E) post at UNC MAC Operations. He is the third rotation in this position, and the third of the three Services to fill the role. It is a very demanding position, inspecting guard posts on the South Korean side of the DMZ, writing reports, endless meetings and planning field deployments for future inspections. It gets busier when a poorly disciplined soldier accidentally discharges a weapon in the DMZ, which has happened. Accidental it may be but the consequences in this type of environment can be disastrous.
In 2005 New Zealand agreed to provide further personnel in support of the UNC MAC. Two New Zealand Junior Officers, LT M Hurley, NZA and FGOFF D Abel, RNZAF were deployed to South Korea in support of the MAC. Lt Hurley was assigned to Transportation Corridor East and FGOFF Abel has been assigned to Transportation Corridor West. The Transportation Corridors are new initiatives (post 2000) and were envisaged as a means to provide further contact between the two countries. The Eastern Corridor primarily sees tourists from the South travelling North to a custom built tourist resort. The Western Transportation Corridor was established to allow the transportation of raw materials and personnel to a huge 16,000 acre business development being constructed in North Korea by South Korean businessmen.
These are two high profile ventures, both Junior Officers have already noted the high level attention these corridors are given. The Transportation Corridors run through the DMZ and that is where the UNC MAC mission begins and ends, as it has for the past 52 years. As MAC representatives the New Zealand Junior Officers are responsible for monitoring activity through the corridors, ensuring it complies with the Armistice Agreement and reporting violations through their UNC chain of command. In these politically, diplomatically and militarily sensitive areas this is often easier said than done,
And this is why NZ Officers are once again enduring a Korean winter where 53 years ago their Kayforce predecessors served.
AFN67 FEBRUARY 06