Major Amanda Brosnan has returned to Dunedin after a
six-month deployment in Afghanistan. Photo by Linda
Safe and sedate, Dunedin is a stark contrast to
Afghanistan, where driving to work is risk and walking alone
even more dangerous.
Dunedin soldier Amanda Brosnan has returned from a six-month
deployment in the fraught country, where she was stationed in
Kabul as a military adviser.
Major Brosnan (48) woke one morning to the bombing of a
compound occupied by contractors to the International
Security Assistance Force about 800m down the road.
She said 2500kg of explosives blasted a 6m deep, 16m long
crater in the ground and killed more than a dozen people.
''It was huge. It was the size of a rubbish truck packed with
Despite the incident, Maj Brosnan said her time in
Afghanistan did not make her husband, Godfrey, and their
children ill at ease.
Her husband was a former soldier and had been deployed
overseas, and their children were reassured somewhat by the
low profile Afghanistan had in New Zealand news.
Maj Brosnan applied for the individual deployment through the
New Zealand Army, although she was working for the United
Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama).
Her task was to help civilian Unama staff, from Afghanistan
and around the world, to understand military operations
within the country.
''We helped them make sense of it. Unless you've been in the
military, it's hard to understand some of the tactics and
operations,'' she said.
Afghanistan was a part of the world Maj Brosnan had hoped to
visit, and she had not previously worked with the United
The trip was an eye-opener for various reasons, and a lesson
in what New Zealanders take for granted.
''You can't walk around the streets by yourself as a
foreigner because of threats of abduction, and driving around
Kabul is an experience - it's like the Wild West.''
Maj Brosnan's interaction with Afghan civilians was limited,
although she met some who had been educated in the West and
found their conservatism surprising.
''You talk to them, thinking they're not that different to
Kiwis, until the subject turns to family and then they are
She hoped to work overseas again, after finishing her legal