Coincidental NZDF report on Afghanistan

NZ Herald has obtained a Defence Force draft report on their deployment in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

A damning NZ Defence Force report on our largest commitment to Afghanistan is hugely critical of politicians and senior commanders, along with many other aspects of our decade-long deployment to the country.

But it was shelved after being deemed “insufficiently accurate”, a decision made by a commander who oversaw one of New Zealand’s six-month deployments to the country.

The fate of the draft report on the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s deployment to Bamiyan contrasts with comments by a military source familiar with its production, who said there was never any feedback of deep inaccuracies.

Instead, the NZ Herald was told, there was concern inside Defence headquarters about the media getting hold of it.

Key findings include:

  • The report is critical of a lack of a “cohesive campaign plan” and that decisions made in Wellington were impacting on the freedom of commanders to command in the field.
  • It says our team endured poor facilities and substandard equipment; some personnel had to buy their own boots as those supplied “failed to cope with rough conditions”.
  • There were also issues with weapons, including faulty rifle equipment and too-few infra-red sights.

More details: Our faulty war: the Afghanistan report they fought to keep secret

A draft report claimed to contain inaccuracies but highlighting problems corroborated by other sources.

What about the timing of the publication of this?

The Herald obtained the report through the Official Information Act after a three-year struggle and the intervention of Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.

In releasing the report to the Herald, Commander Joint Forces NZ Major General Tim Gall said in a letter it had too many inaccuracies to be relied on.

The Herald article  has a link to the letter: MAJOR-GENERAL TIM GALL LETTER (p. 1)

NZDFlettertoFisher

That’s dated 5 December 2016.

Investigative journalism can take time, but the timing of this being published, within a week of the launch of Hager and Stephenson’s book, is interesting. It is one of a several reports by Fisher related to the Defence Force in Afghanistan.

 

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15 Comments

  1. David

     /  27th March 2017

    “The report is critical of a lack of a “cohesive campaign plan” and that decisions made in Wellington were impacting on the freedom of commanders to command in the field.
    It says our team endured poor facilities and substandard equipment; some personnel had to buy their own boots as those supplied “failed to cope with rough conditions”.”

    You could write this of every deployment of NZ troops in history.

    “There were also issues with weapons, including faulty rifle equipment and too-few infra-red sights.”

    Who the hell uses IR sights in this day and age? You can pick up thermal imaging sights from Gun City for crying out loud.

    Reply
    • Yes, imperfect military operations are hardly unique. They are inevitable.

      The only perfect war is one that is avoided before it starts.

      Going in to Afghanistan was always going to be a near impossible mission.

      Reply
      • NOEL

         /  27th March 2017

        Unfavourable reports not going forward.
        That’s no new either.
        Sometimes there can be a tendancy to “give them the bits they want to hear.”

        Reply
    • Sadly, David, I have to agree with most of what you said. Unfortunately, most of the problems are caused by the Defence Forces being starved of combat power capability. When a serving soldier in a command position calls close air support, medevac helicopters and surveillance drones as “unaffordable contingent capabilities” then you can appreciate just how parlous our Defence Force’s situation. Fine that we can rely on joint force capabilities to provide support needed, but that requires a high standard of training in interoperability, and allocation of allied assets at priority call or in direct support that have a special meaning in military operations. The Defence Force response to the Herald is more a political statement than the explanation of the facts that are called for. The disparaging of comments made by subordinates about their concerns for an inability to see the broader picture is the sort of arrogance one expects of a General who seems to claim a monopoly of the truth. The other way to read this apologia is that it is a stark confirmation of the true state of affairs of our Defence Force and our Generals need to face up to their political masters and say enough is enough.

      Reply
      • David

         /  27th March 2017

        “The other way to read this apologia is that it is a stark confirmation of the true state of affairs of our Defence Force and our Generals need to face up to their political masters and say enough is enough.”

        To what effect exactly? Without a massive increase in funding the NZ defense force will always be missing a wide range of capacities, and there is zero political appetite for such an increase. Just maintaining the existing establishment will require a fight.

        Reply
        • If you can’t provide the Combat Power to your forces and send then off to war, then any casualties have to be your responsibility. Provide the combat power or bring them home.

          Reply
          • David

             /  27th March 2017

            No military in the world gets the ‘combat power’ it desires, this is a ridiculous requirement.

            You go to war with what you have, not what you want. You may as well relegate the NZ military to the level of the Irish it that is your thinking.

            Reply
  2. “How parlous our Defence Forces situation is.” Apologies

    Reply
  3. lurcher1948

     /  27th March 2017

    DENY DENY call the books publishers as traitors, threaten as posted on kiwiblog to bash them up, as an aside Farrar is disgusting for what he lets pass as posts,the keyboard worriers wind themselves up to the point that a thick one could do a pizza gate incident, and do bodily harm to the authors

    Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  27th March 2017

    pass the parcel…

    Reply
  5. Bill Brown

     /  27th March 2017

    Interesting to see Fisher from NZH in and around all this – just as he seemed to be last time round when Dirty P was released. Maybe coincidence, or perhaps both working together to get the story out. During Dirty P a few journos seemed to escape and be protected- maybe it’s a case of supporting thru some sort of alliance? Who knows

    Reply
  6. Hey BB, if you draw a network diagram showing the people who support Hager and their linkages, you will find they makings of a collective with an extremist leftwing socialist agenda.

    Reply
  7. Kabull

     /  27th March 2017

    Much of what is in the J8 report is not new nor unexpected. The quality of boots was certainly an issue for the first CRIB deployments and steps were taken to rectify that for subsequent deployments. (Boots provided on the basis of lessons learned in Timor were never going to be OK for Afghanistan.) Not forgetting of course that soldiers have always from time to time bought their own kit because they don’t like that provided. From memory, packs were an issue for much of the Timor deployment.
    Comments that criticise the competence of naval and air force personnel with weapons, when compared to army expectations, are not unknown but are not easy to fix. Very hard to keep a marine engineering technician who spends his time at sea in the bowels of a frigate up to the same level as a soldier.
    Remember also that the report covers a period of more than a decade; over that period much will have changed and been improved. The absence of an exit strategy is a fair comment but again everyone would have known. Producing an exit strategy when you don’t know what the political requirements are is fraught with challenges. From memory the deployment was extended several times.
    The report was produced as an attempt to see what could be learned from the deployment – that is a laudable aim. And no doubt some of the things encountered will enable the NZDF to be better prepared. BUT it is almost a certainty that there will not be a deployment like that to Afghanistan for many many years, if ever. Lessons learned in Afghanistan will provide little help when NZDF land forces have to go back into SE Asia or the Pacific Islands …

    Reply
    • Lessons learned in Afghanistan will have relevance if we ever have to defend mainland New Zealand so all is not lost. Remember training for Jungle warfare in Waiouru or Little Malaya? Not particularly helpful when all of the Mangamuka and East Coast NI, were available but it cost too much to go there.

      Reply

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