July 28th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

Tonga sends troops to Afghanistan ... for jobs

Tongan troops deployed to Afghanistan will come under the command of British forces.

The tiny Pacific nation of Tonga will be sending troops to Afghanistan later this year, in part to create jobs and address the islands’ unemployment problem.

A contingent of 55 Tongan soldiers is expected to begin service in Afghanistan in November, the first of 275 soldiers committed over a two-year period by the Tongan government, Matangi Tonga newspaper reported Wednesday.

The paper reported that Prime Minister Feleti Sevele had received a request from Britain and NATO for Tonga’s assistance in the fight against the Taliban.

Tongan defense services commander Brig. Tauaika 'Uta'atu told CNN affiliate Australia’s ABC News that the country "looks safer than Iraq."

"We will be doing force protection, and security on the boundaries of a camp, which is in the desert," he told Matangi newspaper.

He said the camp holds about 20,000 British troops and U.S. Marines. The Tongans troops will be working with the same 1st Marine Division that they had worked with in Iraq. The soldiers will be under the command of the British military. The British government is also funding the deployment at a cost of more than 2.5 million pounds (US$3.9 million) in the first year.

One lawmaker, People's Representative 'Etuate Lavulavu, told Matangi that reasons given in support of the deployment were that it would provide jobs for the nation’s troubled economy and provide educational and emigration opportunities for Tongans.

But Lavulavu expressed concern over the deployment saying that there were better alternatives for solving unemployment than sending troops to a battlefield. Moreover, said, the Tongan soldiers would only be paid 30 pounds (US$47) a day, he said.

"If it is to find employment, the unemployed can get jobs if they are given skilled training, rather than sending them out to the battlefield to get killed," he added.

"The other issues that we have to worry about are the wounded and those who will be mentally disturbed from their war experience, they will have to be looked after."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Economy • Military
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. realjunius

    Folks, we have to cut costs of warfare. It is time to go nuclear and bring the boys home.

    July 28, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Concerned

    I am a mother of a soldier currently serving in Afghanistan and I surf the news reports every day for what is really going on as contact with my son is not very often. I feel grave concern that a small country such a Tonga feel they need to send troops for something to do. I draw your attention the the Australian Four Corners report of a "careful war" no war is care.ful there is always destruction and I feel extreme sadness for the Afghan people who have casualties everyday, the innocence of soldiers sent and a people in a situation that is continously dangerous. My heart weaps for the loss all round. Let mothers make decisions and it would be alot different

    July 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSG

      These soldiers will be pulling Camp guard that is what Force Proctection means. By doing this they will allow the better trained Troops to be able to roll outside the wire and do the job needed in the countryside.

      President Obama hurt us mam when he said we would be leaving in Aug 2011 it is now very hard to get the Afghan People to help us fight the Taliban. The Afghans believe we are abanding them to the Taliban and they will be kill if they work with us when we leave. So they stay on the fence supporting niether side providing the taliban what they want under threat of Death. Most want to support the CF and GIRoA but believe the Taliban will take over when the CF leave and then they would be killed.

      July 28, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charles

    So they think it's "safer than Iraq." The Tongans sound really comitted to the cause. Just how long do you think they'll last after the first Tongan is killed by a roadside bomb? This sounds more like PR work than real tactical thinking. At a critical time like this in the operation, it's hard to believe Britain and NATO actually thought this one up!

    July 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Worse yet, this idea insults REAL combat soldiers when Britain decides to fund these Tongans "summer jobs."

      July 28, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      In recent news, the Pentagon can't account for BILLIONS allocated for Iraqi public works projects that remain unfinished after years of effort. And our Secretary of Stae has announced a $ 7 billion works project for rural Pakistan.

      Meanwhile, our Congress could barely pass an extension of benefits for unemployed Americans. And it's fighting over whether to let the "Bush tax cuts" expire for all of us, particularly in a time of economic recession. (The argument is, ironically, that we need to balance the budget.)

      I believe the saying is, "A day late and a dollar short." You don't have to join the Tea Party, or anyone else for that matter, to see just how ridiculous all this is! This would make a great sitcom, if only it wasn't so tragic to the American taxpayer.

      July 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ron


    July 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. paul

    "war experiences and those that suffer from the experience of war" these people are to guard the british camp for them, the brits do not want the taliban disturbing thier sleep,

    July 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JIm

    Fiji sends a few hundred troops to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers per the Camp David Accords, so why aren't you mocking that concept?

    July 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tonka

    Were talking using your tonga alot!

    July 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. evan Mark

    Please learn about the TALIBAN and how evil these men really are.
    You absolutely MUST see this!

    August 8, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Utah Utes

    Tongan people are good Helpers>>This is the truth>

    January 18, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
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