NZDF news conference

 

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Tim Keating held a news conference this afternoon to answer questions about the allegations relating to the SAS in operations in Afghanistan.

Stacey Kirk at Stuff lived blogged and has a lot of details, but she also summarises:

Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating has made the following points on Operation Burnham.

  • Operation Burnham was not carried out in the two villages detailed in the book Hit & Run, Keating says.
  • Operation Burnham was conducted some 2km south of the two villages detailed in the book.
  • There may have been civilian casualities, but nothing was proven and the names of the people who were killed in Hit & Run were not present where the SAS was operating.
  • “Revenge was never a driver – we are a professional force,” said Keating.

More detail:

So that was a very detailed, and hence confusing, press conference.

The short of it appears to be that the NZ SAS and Defence Force were carrying out an operation – Operation Burnham – following intelligence received after the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell at the hands of insurgents.

The operation took place, some 2km south of the villages where authors Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson claim it took place in their book Hit & Run.

While Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating acknowledges some civilian deaths may have occurred, they weren’t the villagers detailed in the book.

US Apache Gunships were firing at targeted points on the edge of a village where the operation was taking place.

It was realised that some of those rounds were falling short of the target, and going into a building.

But Keating says insurgents were known to have been present inside that building anyway, although there may have been civilians in there as well. (That’s where the possibility of civilian deaths may have occurred).

Keating suggested those civilians could have been being used as human shields by Taliban insurgents.

As soon as it was realised there was a problem with the sight on one of those Apache gunships, that helicopter was called off.

Video exists of the battle, which is classified, but has been seen by Keating. He seemed open to finding out whether some of it could be released – though that comes down to the other ISAF coalition partners.

Today was the first time he acknowledged that there could have been civilian deaths, in line with statement that came out with the ISAF investigation in 2011.

Previously, the defence force said the claims of civilian deaths were “unfounded”.

Unfounded and “may have occurred” are two different things, after all.

But Keating was very clear that the performance of the SAS and NZDF troops on the ground was “exemplary”.

NZ ground forces only fired two bullets in the operation, which killed a single insurgent.

Keating was unable to give names of the insurgents that were killed, but it appears that previous claims that we did not get the specific insurgents that were the subject of the intelligence gathered beforehand, still stand.

A Military legal advisor was with the commander for the entire operation, and found no cause for concern.

The SAS suffered one injury, and another fact for you: the ISAF coalition forces announced their arrival to the battle sight by loud-haler, for benefit of any civilians present, but somewhat giving away the element of surprise.

Details: NZDF hits back at Hit and Run claims


Toby Manhire at The Spinoff compares thee claims of Stephenson and Hager versus NZDF and details common ground and differences:

Hit and Run: What are crucial differences in authors’ vs Defence Force version of events?


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45 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  27th March 2017

    Baa Baa ,nothing to see here YER RIGHT

    Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  27th March 2017

    Must admit, I’m liking Gen Keating’s story better than Hager’s & Stephenson’s at the moment. A more realistic sounding plot for a start.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  27th March 2017

      Blazer, you were going to buy the book. Have you got your copy yet?

      Reply
    • Kevin

       /  27th March 2017

      “Apache gunship targets insurgents” sounds much more realistic and plausible than “Apache gunship targets women and kids.”

      I’ve always wanted to be an attack helicopter.

      Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  27th March 2017

    Keating came across as objective and honest. Hager comes across as prejudiced and manipulative.

    Reply
    • Kevin

       /  27th March 2017

      I see over on the blog for the damned they have a thread titled “NZDF credibility on the line”

      https://thestandard.org.nz/nzdf-credibility-on-the-line/

      Shouldn’t that be “Nicky Hager’s credibility on the line?”

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  28th March 2017

        There is some hope. One commenter Inspider had some very good comments.

        https://thestandard.org.nz/nzdf-credibility-on-the-line/#comment-1314598

        of course those that responded tried to discredit him or argue against his valid points, and one so far (Ross) has called him a troll – despite his comments being reasonable.

        he hasn’t been banned – yet, but that could be because the post wasn’t written by Weka, and it seems that Anthony Robins could be a bit more tolerant than Weka of a dissenting opinion, or they haven’t got around to it. Now that this commenter has been labelled a troll it could just be a matter of time.

        Reply
    • Missy

       /  28th March 2017

      Keating is an honest, and honourable, person. He is also objective, and willing to own up when the NZDF gets things wrong. I will take his word over Hager’s any day of the week.

      *disclaimer: I have met Tim Keating on a few occasions, and know many who serve in the NZDF, my opinion is based on my impressions when I met him and the views of those that serve under him.

      Reply
  4. Alan, dead right. If you read the weasel words of Hager in the most recent Stuff interviews he is being less than complete if not downright dishonest with his answers. I really would love to see him cross examined (and Stephenson) in a Military Court of Inquiry that has jurisdiction in this case. Two bullets fired by our ground troops but how many casualties claimed?
    I am reminded of “Apocalypse Now” when Colonel Walter Kurtz says “I remember when I was with Special Forces… seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms.”
    Fiction, thank God, but if you want to be judgmental about the possible consequences of NZ Troops actions, I invite you to help the UN excavate the mass graves found elsewhere in the Middle East from the actions of theTaliban, ISIS and the sons of Islamic Jihad etc.
    Then ask yourself about two bullets only, in a NZSAS Operation and how many alleged NZSAS caused casualties. It all sounds like bullshit to me Hager (rhymes with Lager).

    Reply
  5. The information that NZDF referred to, like the gunship video and the senior lawyer watching the raid in real time seems very credible. The MSM call it confusing because it was so detailed – an admission that they were wrong and have been caught out supporting Hager. Note how the headlines are civilian casualties may have occurred as if it proves Hager right.

    The authors seem to be relying on an unnamed doctor (is the village big enough to have a doctor?), a few villager’s accounts (that may be for a totally different attack) and a few unnamed army people who wasn’t there. They got the GPS coordinates wrong so that makes everything else suspect. The expression about taking a knife to a gunfight seems appropriate.

    Reply
    • Troupe

       /  27th March 2017

      And for all we know Manning, Hager, Stephenson or all have offered these “villagers” refugee status assistance if they tell them what they want to hear and grand promises of possible compensation. Their evidence obviously can’t be trusted.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  27th March 2017

      Yes, I noticed the weasel headlines too. No honour amongst the MSM nowadays.

      Reply
  6. Missy

     /  27th March 2017

    I will believe General Keating over Hager anytime. Hager has form for not admitting he is wrong, so I don’t expect him to hold his hand up to it.

    In the Villagers testimony, they could have been unsure as to the nationality of the soldiers, and may not even have confirmed – or have said they were NZera after leading questions. Also? After the experience of IHAT in the U.K. It has to be remembered that some of these people will say anything if they think they can get money.

    If Hager and Stephenson are so confident let them release the recordings of their interviews and identity of their anonymous sources in the army. They should be willing to be open to the same scrutiny they are putting NZDF under and not hide behind anonymity.

    Reply
    • John Schmidt

       /  27th March 2017

      I wondered if this was the flag thing. Were Aussies also operating in the area. What are the chances of flag confusion being at the bottom of this. Who would notice the subtle difference in Afghanistan other than Kiwis and Aussies.

      Reply
      • Kabull

         /  27th March 2017

        But the operation was a night one – how would a flag be seen?

        Reply
      • Missy

         /  27th March 2017

        I didn’t think SAS usually wore identifying patches, also don’t NZ troops also wear a kiwi patch?

        I don’t think it is related to the flag.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      ‘Hager has form for not admitting he is wrong’…can you back this up?

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  27th March 2017

        After Dirty Pilitics he was challenged by anime Hosking on one of the ‘facts’ he put in the book – to do with Peter Dunne – that was subsequently proven to be incorrect. His ‘fact’ was supposition based on a third party comment, but he maintained he was correct in his supposition, despite it being shown to be incorrect.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  27th March 2017

          don’t be shy ..[Deleted – PG]…tell us the so called ..fact.

          Reply
          • Missy

             /  27th March 2017

            I am at work Blazer, I don’t have time to pander to you.

            As PG deleted something you said I gather you said something derogatory and offensive, so I am now disinclined to find it for you. If you were nicer I might indulge you, but I can’t be bothered how.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  27th March 2017

              yes I called you a shorter form of ..darling…..I’m sure most people would find that offensive…..if they were ….morons.

            • Missy

               /  27th March 2017

              Blazer, if that is correct, then the word itself is not offensive, but the context it was used is.

              A word like that is often used by men when debating to undermine a woman’s argument and point. In my experience it is usually a fall back of men who are losing an argument or are threatened by a woman with an opinion.

              It is demeaning and patronising towards women and any man with respect for women would not use it in the context you have here.

              So, as I said – not offensive on its own, but in the context of discussion and debate it is offensive, if on the low end of offensiveness.

              So, I guess in your world I am also a Moron.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  27th March 2017

        He made allegations against David Farrar that were false and never apologised.

        Reply
  7. lurcher1948

     /  27th March 2017

    As i understand no one has sued Hager ever and billy and Keating will not so the matter stays simmering on the stove.

    Reply
  8. chrism56

     /  27th March 2017

    Lurcher
    You are not being honest about anyone wanting to challenge Hager. For this book, AFAIK, the authors did not name anyone in the SAS as having committing a crime. They didn’t even name any of the soldiers there, even though several are in the public arena. In fact, they never said a crime was committed, just that one may have been. And the Army can’t sue. Even if they could, it is well known that he is a trust baby so would have no money to get damages from. As Mr Little is finding out, mounting a libel action is very expensive, so no government department would sanction the spending with no prospect of return.
    The purpose of the book isn’t to bring war crime charges – it is to have an inquiry so he can grandstand about neutering the army. Isn’t that what his last chapter is about.
    With regards to his previous books, his new facts about politicians haven’t been startling, have they. Can you name one? Woodward and Berstein he ain’t – just a writer with an extreme left wing agenda.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      ‘so no government department would sanction the spending with no prospect of return.’…plentry of evidence that this is b/s….where do I start…

      Reply
    • Kabull

       /  27th March 2017

      If Hagar is so confident that he has it right, why doesn’t he produce all HIS evidence, instead of proclaiming loudly that it is for the NZDF to disprove him?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  27th March 2017

        I heard he published a book ,covering his side of the..story.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  27th March 2017

          Was that the book using anonymous sources and hearsay?

          Hardly evidence.

          Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  27th March 2017

      Was there a publisher of this book or was it self-published? A publisher could also be sued.

      Reply
  9. chrism56

     /  27th March 2017

    Blazer, well if it is b/s, I’m waiting for you to start listing the cases. Otherwise, it proves you are just a blowhard.
    Stevenson sued the Lieutenant General Rhys Jones not the other way around

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      NZ Flag referendum…26mil down the tubes..thats your starter.Plenty more.

      Reply
  10. chrism56

     /  27th March 2017

    As I thought, Blazer, you are just a bullshit artist.
    Where are the libel cases mounted by government departments – read what I wrote, in context, don’t selectively quote? Put up or shut up

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      is the MBIE a Govt Dept?You know the one that did the deal with Peter Thiel putting taxpayers money on the line…heads you win,tails we..lose!Your turn.

      Reply
  11. chrism56

     /  27th March 2017

    Blazer – more bullshit from you – not having a good run are you

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      au contraire ,your only riposte is..b/s…is MBIE a govt dept or not?Your words…’so no government department would sanction the spending with no prospect of return.’…read it..and weep.

      Reply
  12. chrism56

     /  27th March 2017

    You can’t even read. My words were “mounting a libel action is very expensive, so no government department would sanction the spending with no prospect of return”

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  27th March 2017

      I understand that perfectly…what you fail to understand is this….no prospect of a return is definately NOT a consideration for govt departments…libel or anything ..else!

      Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  27th March 2017

      Well mannered (and new).

      Reply
  13. Missy

     /  27th March 2017

    It seems not every journalist is enamoured of Hager. This from Ian Wishart, an interesting read, but what is relevant for Blazer is this bit:

    “In his book Dirty Politics, Nicky Hager reprints allegations contained in stolen private emails – theories about a wide range of people. Among the allegations he has printed are that former Act leader Rodney Hide was blackmailed into quitting because he had been caught sending inappropriate text messages to a woman.

    Additionally, Hager reprinted emails alleging Auckland mayor Len Brown was having sex with prostitutes.

    Neither Brown nor Hide appear to have been asked to comment on the truth of the allegations. In fact, Hide has definitely confirmed he was not approached, and that the allegations are false and without substance.”

    A quick google search doesn’t provide any apology or admission from Hager that he was wrong about this allegation – or any error in fact.

    Reply

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