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A 'niche' group of Defence Force personnel may stay on in Afghanistan for even longer than the one-year extension the government has announced.

27 troops, including three SAS members, will carry out a range of roles in Kabul past the April withdrawal date for all other troops.

The Prime Minister says they are doing a very different job to that of our troops in Bamyan, and he's not breaking a promise by keeping some personnel on.

John Key says things in the war-torn nation are "changeable" so he can't make a commitment that they will definitely be withdrawn after a year.

"The intention at the moment is that this is a one-year commitment of 27 personnel.

"At the end of that year, the government will look at what other countries are doing and how we feel about matters, and then re-assess that."

But a "new mission" is how Labour is labelling the decision to keep 27 troops on in Afghanistan past the official April withdrawal date.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway opposes the move because of a complete lack of consultation with other political parties, or any warning the decision was coming.

"It's very difficult to look at the merits of the deployment, because the Government hasn't given the New Zealand public the opportunity to look at what it's intentions are in Afghanistan."

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