“The NZDF will never clear its name”

Another ‘NZDF bad, Hager & Stephenson impeccable’ post from Anthony Robins at The Standard in The NZDF will never clear its name – and neither will Bill English, plus another attempt to land all the responsibility on Bill English in election year.

The odds of Hager and Stephenson being wrong on the substance of Hit and Run are low, and if they were wrong the NZDF would be in a hurry to prove it. They aren’t.

That’s nonsense.

How can the NZDF possibly “clear its name” if Hit and Run is correct? By fronting up to any mistakes that were made, by apologising and taking whatever action is possible to acknowledge and compensate the villagers. That would be the decent thing to do, and the force would be strengthened by it, not weakened.

Why not run a campaign of NZDF bashing if it can help taint the Government? Like this:

… when Bill English ignores it and announces “no enquiry” he will have missed an important opportunity. Instead he will have forever tied himself to the perception of a shabby coverup.

Some will no doubt see this as shabby politicisation of a military event more than two elections ago.

I got involved in the following discussions, where personal attacks from the usual suspect OAB are allowed when their arguments and claims and assertions get challenged, but someone else speaking against the tone of the post gets slammed with a 3 month ban because they didn’t “prove that last assertion”, a demand that lprent knew couldn’t be met.

This not only cuts ‘Sam C’ out of the conversation but it also serves as a warning to others not to challenge the party/blog lines without risk of being silenced, while the resident troll can break their rules with impunity.

 

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52 Comments

  1. Oliver

     /  3rd April 2017

    So basically the NZDF has realised it’s lies aren’t working anymore so they’ve decided to come clean. Sorry of. Stand by for statements like “fog of war” and “the enemy doesn’t wear a uniform” etc..

    Just be honest and tell the truth. The SAS troopers were so scared that they shot at anything that moved. They were motivated by fear and self preservation. They were reckless and engaged targets indiscriminately because they valued there own lives over anybody’s else’s. Enemy or civilian it did not matter. That’s what happened.

    Reply
    • You’re not being honest and telling the truth, you’re obviously making things up.

      Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  3rd April 2017

        An opinion doesn’t need to contain any truth.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  3rd April 2017

          Oliver hasn’t posted as opinion – he has stated as fact. Truth would be helpful in this instance.

          Reply
        • It helps if it does though. And it should also be expressed as an opinion, and not implying it is ” honest and tell the truth” and “that’s what happened’. If it was opinion it would have been “That’s what I think happened”.

          Reply
          • Anonymous Coward

             /  3rd April 2017

            That it’s not plausibly factual makes it clear that it’s an opinion.

            Reply
            • No, it’s clear that it is something he made up trying to make it appear as factual. That’s quite different to expressing an opinion.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  3rd April 2017

              You read too much into things.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  3rd April 2017

              I read it the same way – he even states categorical that “that’s what happened”. Opinion should be stated as such.
              And Oliver obviously finds it plausible.

    • AC, “That it’s not plausibly factual makes it clear,,,” ? Care to rephrase to say what you meant i.e. “It is not plausible which makes it opinion not fact!”

      Reply
    • Oliver

       /  3rd April 2017

      [So you are intent on making serious, inflammatory and unfounded accusations. Only comments from you that can be supported will get through until you can demonstrate that you can be trusted. PG]

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  3rd April 2017

        Can you explain to me what was wrong with that? Why can’t I share my opinion?

        [If you want to share your opinion express it as an opinion. And if you make serious accusations against people or organisations that are not supported by something of substance then I reserve the right to protect this site. PG]

        Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  3rd April 2017

    “Gone to ground” is a statement of opinion. What lprent should have done is asked on what basis Sam C believed Hager and co had gone to ground.

    Reply
    • Depends on what his motive was. It appears that he had already decided the outcome.

      Reply
      • Kevin

         /  3rd April 2017

        Agreed – lprent had already decided the outcome. A fair moderator would have given Sam C a chance to state on what basis he believed Hager and co had gone to the ground and allowed readers the opportunity to decide whether Sam C’s opinion was reasonable.

        Reply
  3. That blog, and Robbins in particular has zero credibility. It’s SOLE interest is in bringing down the Govt and to THIS end alone, all posts are nothing but propaganda . I understand their ambition, but I don’t understand their lack of integrity, as the absence of same illustrates extreme shallowness and a lack of respect for the intelligent observer. They should look to The Guardian UK to see how to achieve balance and still maintain steadfast Labour Party alliance.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd April 2017

      I think you are over reacting here.The story on Fish serve today really raises eyebrows.So many intelligent contributions for and against political machinations would suggest your statement that ‘all posts are nothing but propaganda’…is quite…ludicrous.

      Reply
  4. High Flying Duck

     /  3rd April 2017

    Did you see Paul Buchanan’s post at the end of the Standard comments?

    Some interesting points, although he credits journalist opinions as fact also.

    I don’t necessarily agree with him, but his comments are a worthwhile addition to the discussion:

    “The Manning and Young essays cited are two very important follow ups to the original story and the NZDF response to it. The first dissects that response and finds some glaring discrepancies in the NZDF account of events–glaring to the point of involving sins of commission and omission on key points that form the core of the NZDF rebuttal.

    The Young piece is extraordinary because she has pointed out that civilian control and oversight of the military in NZ is woefully lacking. Since such control and oversight lies at the foundation of civil-military relations in liberal democracies, this means that the NZDF has been operating with a degree of unchecked autonomy unseen in mature democratic states. This may be due to a mix of colonial legacy (where the NZ military answered to the Queen, not the government), political elite ignorance of military affairs and public disinterest in them, but whatever the reasons it is remarkable, in a bad way, how little accountability the NZDF has to its erstwhile political supervisors and the public that pays their salaries and buys the NZDF its equipment. Wrapping itself in notions of “sacrifice” and patriotism is no substitute for the NZDF being held accountable by the public it ostensibly serves and the politicians who are charged by the electorate with overseeing it.

    I was involved in a Transparency International exercise two years ago where I flagged some of these issues as part of the review of the NZDF and intelligence services. The final published report saw my low scores on a number of questions about accountability etc. averaged out to “very good” and “excellent.” I knew then that either there were not enough neutral observers looking at the NZDF and intelligence community or that the exercise was just a whitewash using TI as a prop.

    I am a bit surprised that Mr. George is running such determined interference for the NZDF/National. From his comments it seems clear that he has uncritically swallowed the NZDF line. Given that he likes to opine in public forums it might be wise for him to read the two essays mentioned in the post before commenting further.

    There is an old maxim that states that “in war the military controls the narrative.” But what makes democratic civil-military relations different from authoritarian civil-military relations is in part the willingness and ability of independent media and political authorities to conduct impartial reviews of military conduct on and off the battlefield. That prevents the military from circling its wagons in order to protect its own when bad things happen by accident or design, which in turn promotes more transparency and internal notions of responsibility to the public interest within it.

    Unless an inquiry into the claims made in “Hit and Run” is launched, then we are left with only one description for the bottom line when it comes to NZDF being held responsible for its actions: it is grounded in a culture of impunity rather than accountability. And that, I hate to say, is inimical to democratic governance.”

    Reply
  5. Paul Buchanan has joined in, including taking a swipe at me:

    [I hadn’t noticed that HFD had posted this comment from Buchanan too, I’ve deleted this one to avoid duplication.]

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  3rd April 2017

      I find it hard to believe Transparency International would be duped as he implies, which makes me question his other statements. He may have an axe to grind on military oversight matters.

      The swipe at PG seemed unnecessary.

      It is also clear the mission in question was signed off by Government ministers and the Government is calling the shots as to whether there is an inquiry. which undermines his position that it is acting with impunity and little oversight.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  3rd April 2017

        TI….’“TI USA is very corporate oriented, very inside the Beltway oriented.”

        Five months earlier, in June 2013, representatives from Transparency International declined Snowden’s request to meet with him at the Moscow airport. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch met with Snowden to support his asylum request, but Transparency International refused.[24]’wiki……govts often ignore T.I ,when it suits…them.

        Reply
  6. Paul Buchanan’s comments are a continuation of the attempts being made to redirect attention away from the facts. Firstly, the location of Tirgiran shows up clearly on Google Earth and it is identical to the NZDF supplied map of Operation Burnham. The public statement made by ISAF of the operation that caused civilian casualties that day, describes a area that does show on Google Earth and numbers of casualties inconsistent with Hager and Stephenson’s claims. (13 versus 6). NZDF soldiers fired 2 rounds and killed an armed insurgent advancing towards them. The book is incorrect.
    Buchanan’s smoke and mirror attempt to raise the question of civilian control over NZDF operations is an absurdity. Who would be qualified to in effect control an operation? An untrained civilian? There was already a Law Graduate in uniform observing the action on the ground. Did Buchanan want an ethics graduate as well? The mind boggles.

    Reply
  7. I suggest that sceptics of Hager and Stephenson’s account read Selwyn Manning’s dissection of the NZDF response here: http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2017/04/analysis-lieutenant-general-tim-keatings-operation-burnham-account-highlights-key-legal-concerns/#more-12490. The only location error in Hit and Run is an incorrect GPS marker on a map used by the authors to indicate the villages in question. In fact, when it comes to confusion, it is the NZDF that got it wrong–the village they refer to does not exist (and the name the NZDF uses refers to the region, not a specific settlement).

    As for civilian control of the military, I was referring not to battlefield control and oversight but overall authority. If you have not read Audrey Young’s essay in the Sunday Herald, then you should. The more immediate issue appears to be not so much that mistakes were made on the ground but in the subsequent misrepresentation of what happened to the political leadership (and perhaps even NZDF command in Wellington). That should be a cause for concern.

    The TI process was fraught. I was brought in as an independent referee and later found out that many other referees came from within or were retired from the services being scrutinised. I wrote up several instances of unethical and unaccountable behaviour, including the defamatory case that forced the NZDF to retract its remarks about Stephenson and settle monetarily on terms very favourable to him. None of that appeared in the final report. I later spoke with another independent referee and his experience was similar. So perhaps we were the cover used on what became a backslapping exercise by those in the know.

    I made no swipe at Mr. George. I just found it surprising that he is so protective of the NZDF narrative when he appears, contrary to his claims, not to have read the full book or much of the subsequent commentary even in light of the NZDF history of obfuscation and shooting at messengers. In his snark back at me Mr. George gave me a variant of the old “glass houses” line, but where we differ is that I try to limit myself to what I have professional experience in and with–such as civil-military relations, intelligence collection and analysis and unconventional warfare. In fact, I try to steer clear of topics that I am not well-grounded in. Were it that others practiced such self-limiting behaviour in both their public and private lives.

    Reply
    • It looked very much like a swipe at me, and an inaccurate one, as is your comment here.

      “contrary to his claims, not to have read the full book or much of the subsequent commentary”

      No, I haven’t read the book. But I have read all the responses from NZDF and Hager and Stephenson, and a large amount of the commentary, and have participated in arguments on various sides of then issue here. I’ve even read commentary from you, and it seems you have little idea what I’ve actually said about it all.

      Don’t believe all the claims they make at The Standard.

      “but where we differ is that I try to limit myself to what I have professional experience in and with–such as civil-military relations, intelligence collection and analysis and unconventional warfare. In fact, I try to steer clear of topics that I am not well-grounded in. Were it that others practiced such self-limiting behaviour in both their public and private lives.”

      And you cricised me at The Standard and left everyone else’s claims unchallenged, and obviously many of them are not as well grounded in the topic as you. But we live in an open democracy where even numpties can express an opinion.

      “Were it that others practiced such self-limiting behaviour in both their public and private lives.”

      You are free to comment here, even though you are obviously far from expert about how this topic has been covered here.

      You’re displaying a similar arrogance of expertise to the NZDF.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  3rd April 2017

      Thanks for the clarification. I know you have a wealth of experience in military matters.

      I have seen a map which clearly shows two named villages called Tirgiran in the same spot the military mentioned:

      Click to access baghlan_province_sept_2011.pdf

      The villages are at: 35°10’0″N on the vertical and 68°10’0″E on the horizontal plane.

      Is this incorrect?

      The fact Hager and Stephenson use speculation and conjecture as their main argument strategy automatically puts me against them.

      The blinding hypocrisy of Hager berating the Herald for not contacting him about the cartridge story (where he seemed to argue that reading the caption with the cartridge photo in the book was entirely misleading and should not have been done…) before publishing encapsulates his “one rule for me” attitude.

      There may be a serious issue of malfeasance on the part of the military here, but if so Hager has done the possibility of justice an enormous disservice by politicising, implying and smearing.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  3rd April 2017

      The military even met with the head of Tirgiran Village in February 2010:

      “Mullah Shafiullah, who admits to being an ex-Taliban Commander and is now the elected Head of Shura (village council) for Tigiran, explained that the three Shuras attending the meeting – Gardindeh, Tirgiran and Reshqaw, represent 8,000 people. However, they have no health clinic, are connected by tracks, and only one of the villages has a tented school.

      “These factors, in combination with a lack of work, has prompted some to resort to criminal activity, and on occasions insurgent activity.”

      http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1002/S00440/nzprt-meet-with-ex-mujahadeen-and-former-taliban.htm

      Reply
    • Paul, you, Hager and Stephenson have yet to explain how it is possible for the NZSAS to fire only two rounds in the engagement yet inflict the claimed damage. Nor do ny of you address the evidence provided By Lt Gen Keating about the so called second operation leading to claims of vindictive destruction of houses, when evidence was produced to show that ammunition, including anti-tank rounds as photographed was found and when being destroyed caused a fire in the adjacent village which caused no casualties.
      Your biased reporting supporting a left wing so-called journalist who did not attempt to check his facts with NZDF yet admitted publicly that he had a political and social agenda in writing the book, shows the extent of your personal leftwing bias and does nothing for your assumed reputation as a commentator. Your description of your disappointment with not being able to influence the conclusions of the TI and your opinion on what happened there is of no interest or relevance to the actual events that occurred on 22 August but in my view is a cheap shot at honourable men and women of the NZDF.

      Reply
  8. HFR: The villages coordinates are correct but they are not called Tirgiran. They are Naik and Khak Khuday Dad. That is where the op took place. Tirgiran is the local region, and there are several settlements (from which Shura are drawn) in the region. It is akin to me living in Waitakere, but actually in a settlement called Karekare just down the road and over the hill from another called Piha. Although the inhabitants of both Karekare and Piha live in the Waitakeres, they are two separate villages.

    The irony of the PRT commanders meeting with Tirgiran leaders in February 2010, only to have Lt O’Donnell killed in an ambush in August 2010, should not be lost on you. With trust betrayed the seeds for Operation Burnham were sown. It might not have been a “revenge” attack but if we take “utu” to mean “warriors vengeance,” then there could have been an element of that in it. The question is whether civilians were deliberately targeted at any point and if so, why? The Manning article I have linked to has more detailed points of inquiry deserving of an answer.

    PG: Not reading the book and basing your commentary on the secondary literature about it is not a good look. Heck, undergrads who do so in review essays are flunked for that original academic sin! In any event whatever one thinks of Hager and Stephenson, neither has ever been proven wrong in their assertions about the NZDF or intelligence community. Period. So, while I do not share Hager’s clear distaste for the military, intelligence services, 5 Eyes and the US, I accept that on these topics he tends to get things right. As for Stephenson, I know the man and he is brave and a person of high integrity even if, again, we do not agree on many security related issues. The NZDF, on the other hand, has a history of spinning and besmirching, which again appears to be a command problem rather than an operational one (although clearly Operation Burnham had some serious intel flaws and perhaps failures of tactical command). Hence the need for an inquiry to sort out the “he said, she said.”

    As for the pummelling over at the Standard. I am non-partisan so do not pay much mind to those who toe a strict party line over there. But your interjections, while seemingly contrary but benign at first, begin to look an awful like trolling by the end. Same with that Sam C person. While I do not share the moderator’s penchant for banning people, his commentary guidelines are pretty clear in that regard. It might have been best to agree to disagree with the Standardistas rather than persist with an argumentative line that was not going to change any minds and quite frankly, had difficulty holding water. Hence my remark about running interference without having read the book.

    Arrogance is the habit of assuming superiority when discussing anything. Confidence is being grounded in experience when discussing some things. There is a difference, and I make sure to respect it.

    Reply
    • ” begin to look an awful like trolling by the end.”

      You do realise that accusing of “trolling”, at The Standard, is a standard attack the messenger tactic?

      It’s usually people who can’t support their arguments or just resort to trying discredit different views who resort to that. It’s another cheap shot.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  3rd April 2017

      PB, I understand the distinction between regions and villages, but the map clearly also makes that distinction – as does the Scoop article.

      I don’t mean to be a pedant, but to be clear, you are saying:

      – The two villages on the map, that are very clearly identified in the Legend as villages, and – Are named Tirgiran 1 and Tirgiran 2; & which are
      – In the exact spot on the ridge, not in the valley, the NZDF said they attacked two villages of the same name

      are not actual villages called Tirgiran?

      And the man described as the Village Chief of Tirgiran Village in the Scoop story from 2010 (who met the military along with the village chiefs of Gardindeh & Reshqaw – also both marked on the map as Villages) is not actually the village chief of Tirgiran, despite that being his given as his capacity and him describing his village?

      The map, and designation of the people the Military met with matches exactly the NZDF name and location in their version of events.

      We then have the people admitting they got the locations wrong (H&S) saying the DF was also wrong, despite this evidence to the contrary.

      I know it is “impossible” that Hager and Stephenson are wrong…and yet that is what I strongly believe.

      Reply
  9. I wonder if Paul has seen this Public Report:
    “MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010

    AFG Civilian Casualties in Baghlan Confirmed

    Joint assessment team confirms possibility of civilian casualties in Baghlan

    ISAF Joint Command

    08.29.2010 KABUL – In response to Baghlan provincial governor’s concerns about civilian casualties, a joint assessment team composed of representatives from the ministries of interior and defense, and International Security Assistance Force officials, conducted a full assessment of an operation on Aug. 22 in Talah wa Barfak District, Baghlan province.
    The team determined that several rounds from coalition helicopters fell short, missing the intended target and instead striking two buildings, which may have resulted in civilian casualties.
    Insurgents were using the building as a base of operations; however, it was not the intended target
    The team discovered the accidental short rounds during an examination of the air weapons team video. The assessment determined a gun site malfunction was the cause of the errant rounds.
    “We regret any possible civilian loss of life or injury. Our first objective is to protect the people of Afghanistan, and in this case we may have failed,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy M Zadalis, ISAF Joint Command director of plans and projects and team lead. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the family and friends of those civilians who may have been injured or killed.”
    During their assessment, the team received operational briefings, met with the provincial governor and chief of police and reviewed weapons-system video.
    Initial reports from the ground operation indicated 13 insurgents were killed, with no civilian casualties, however close examination of the weapons system video showed the errant rounds striking the unintended buildings.
    “This is exactly why we send assessment teams to look into all civilian casualty allegations,” said Zadalis. “We want to be sure we understand exactly what happened, review all information available and set the record straight.”
    Posted by MsMarti – on Monday, August 30, 2010 at 15:00 in Afghanistan News | Permalin”

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd April 2017

      There is an inconsistency with the Keating press conference statement there. Keating said the mis-sighted gun was detected during the operation and prevented from further deployment. This account says it was not detected until the operation was reviewed.

      Reply
      • Yep Alan, but is this the same operation as the Hager description? Assuming it is, then the review would have to conclude what it saw in the camera gun video so it does not preclude troops on the ground communicating with the helicopter and saying “check fire” or whatever theatre codeword is in use to stop friendly support fire. That is what I understood from the briefing material rom NZDF and the ISAF report confirms it. So nothing there.

        Reply
  10. High Flying Duck

     /  3rd April 2017

    And the Government, having reviewed the evidence agrees that the only incorrect version of events is contained in the book. No enquiry…

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11830976

    Reply
  11. HFD: Do you really think that the names of the villages are Tirgiran 1 & 2 and that they are located on ridge lines? Perhaps the NZDF may call them that but the idea that villages are located on ridges defies credulity given the terrain/climate etc. The 2010 Scoop article was sourced from the NZDF, so it tells us little more than the “he said, she said” from the NZDF side.

    BJMarsh1: The 2010 ISAF report, while getting closer to the truth, was a joint Afghan MoD/ISAF report that was as much political as it was factual in its orientation. I remain of the belief that if the NZDF ever wanted to once and for all prove that Hager and Stephenson were lefty conspiracy liars, then an inquiry was the best opportunity for them to do so. Alas, that will not be.

    But something tells me that there are other means of forcing the NZDF to front on this, even if it means going to the ICC after the government’s refusal to convene an inquiry. That refusal is the first step in pushing the matter up to the ICC and, as I wrote in the Spinoff last week, we really do not want to go there. But it looks that we well may do so, which will be much worse for the NZDF and government’s reputation than if the inquiry had occurred at home.

    Anyway, it has been an interesting chat. When it comes to those who blindly take the NZDF word for things I simply will leave you with that Jack Nicholson line from “A Few Good Men:” You can’t handle the truth!

    Cheers.

    Reply
    • “When it comes to those who blindly take the NZDF word for things”

      I’m not aware of anyone here who has done that.

      What do you think of the number of people who seem to have blindly taken every Hager/Stephenson word for it, for example at The Standard?

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  3rd April 2017

      Thanks for engaging Paul.

      Bill English said he had seen video footage and clear evidence that the SAS had followed correct procedures.

      From the NZH:
      ____________________

      English said the video he saw confirmed the “extensive steps” that forces took to ensure minimal opportunity for civilian casualties.

      “In viewing this I was impressed by the restraint, the care and the repeated assurance that the operation was conducted in such a way that would minimise casualties and the destruction of their property.”

      English said he was “not at all” worried about potential legal action and what that could uncover.

      “It looks to be in some cases a wildly inaccurate piece of journalism.”

      English said the video was classified and he would not enter a process where “all actions” of NZDF were “available for public viewing”.

      “I trust the process,” English said, saying he had become more convinced after reviewing material that Keating’s conclusion was right.

      ________________________

      I’m no pawn for appeals to authority, but given Mr English – and Mr Keating for that matter – were not involved in the original raid decision the firing line if there was an issue, it seems strange that they would effectively risk their careers and reputation over this with such categorical denials of wrongdoing tied such categorical claims of actual evidence (so no wriggle room there).

      And on the Map – we will agree to disagree. It was not a military map, it was created by iMMAP who are humanitarian organisation.

      Reply
  12. Paul
    You would do better if you actually learned to read maps. The pdf of Baghlan province (link up post) shows the two villages named Tirgiran beside a river (Read the legend) Google maps shows the marker for the village about 150m up above the houses for the village (beside a stream/ river junction) that everyone agrees was the one attacked. This is shown in the military briefing inside the black box.
    Now as you got your first paragraph totally wrong, how much credibility is there is the rest of your post?

    Reply
    • Precisely! I was impressed by BillEnglish standing up on behalf of the families and dependants, as well as the professionalism and integrity of the troops. As we approach ANZAC Day 100 years from the defeat of the Ottoman Troops in the Holy Land by ANZUK forces thereby occupying the land that is now Israel, it would be appropriate for English to mend our relations with Australia and Israel in this area.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd April 2017

        Relations with Israel do not require mending by New Zealand. They require mending by Israel. Netanyahu has to go. Who else have they got?

        Reply
  13. Chrism56. Not so fast in attributing error. I was just responding to HFD’s comment about names and locations based on his map. There is no such local names as Tirgiran 1&2 and as you note, they are not located on ridges. But all that name and location business aside, we agree that they were attacked. The NZDF now admits, after years of stonewalling, that civilians “may” have been killed. And yet, besides that silly “bullets fell short” business, they refuse to even consider why that happened. Again, a look at the Manning link I initially provided would be enlightening for you. And this: http://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/29-03-2017/tirgiran-locals-tirgiran-is-not-a-village-and-therefore-tirgiran-village-does-not-exist/.

    In any event, please carry on without me.

    Reply
    • Kevin

       /  3rd April 2017

      Well, PM has viewed footage of the operation and won’t be having an enquiry, so end of.

      https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/bill-english-there-no-basis-inquiry-into-sas-raid-in-afghanistan

      “After considering Lieutenant General Keating’s briefing, his letter to Mr Brownlee and viewing video footage of the operation, I have concluded there is no basis for ordering an inquiry,” Mr English said.

      On Friday, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had received a detailed letter from Mr Keating stating that he had received all the documentation available about the operation.

      PM says ‘there’s no basis for an inquiry’ into SAS raid in Afghanistan
      Bill English says he’s reviewed the evidence, including watching a video.
      Lieutenant General Keating has informed Mr Brownlee that the material clearly shows personnel involved in the operation took deliberate and careful steps to ensure that it was conducted according to the law of armed conflict,” Mr English said.

      So civilians may or may not have been killed but the SAS acted according to the rules.

      Hager’s implication that it was a revenge raid and the SAS acted unlawfully is incorrect – at least according to the PM who has watched the video.

      But then again the PM could be part of the conspiracy.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd April 2017

        “On Friday, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had received a detailed letter from Mr Keating stating that he had received all the documentation available about the operation.”

        But we don’t know what “all” that “information available” was, do we?
        Nor do we know what the video footage viewed was, and was of, do we?

        So, we actually know fuck all, and for all we know, so do they. So, this is not good enough.

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  3rd April 2017

          Why not G? Call me crazy, but I have complete faith in our SAS. There is a reason that they are held in high regard, by both the ‘Poms’, & the ‘Yanks’. Our ‘boys’, are some of the best in the world, and they don’t kill civilians for fun, or for revenge. Ever.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  4th April 2017

            Because there is no reason to have complete faith in the Armed Forces or the NZSAS nor in Defence High command, to the extent that that is your reason for believing the Defence Chief’s satisfaction all went to plan & there is nothing to any of the allegations when if this was a Court, his evidence to the jury is his claim that he knows all he needs to know about what happened & there is nothing to worry about, so that is the end of the matter. But the jury doesn’t know what he knows, what evidence he has actually seen, and what he doesn’t know.

            My hope & expectation is that he is right, but he hasn’t provided the evidence that enables me to conclude that defibitely he is. That said, I’m going back up to read some of the linked material in this thread again. I don’t rate either Gerry Brownlee or Bill English as competent in matters military.

            Ultimately I think perhaps the material Lt Gen Keating has seen is going to have to be made available to someone outside the Military & the government for an independent review.

            Just about everybody’s special forces are regarded as some of the best in the world by the poms, the kiwis, the yanks … blah blah. I’m sure they’re world class. I’m a patriotic nationalist, my old man was acWW2 vet of North Africa & Italy, I don’t get too carried away by that sort of now traditional & decades old excited self-promotion.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  4th April 2017

              Um, OK G. ‘Ouch’, I guess. I’ve got my late grandfather’s war medals, in a frame on the wall. I’d far rather have met him, though. He was a sniper, and didn’t die in WW2. He ‘chain smoked’, for whatever reason, every day after his ‘honourable discharge’, and finally ‘met his maker’, in the mid 70’s, due to a heart attack, at the ripe old age of 62. And I was conceived, that very same night. (TMI Mum!!!)
              Being the eldest son, I have his medals. And my eldest will have them, once he has established his own household. But when I look at them, and think about the little that my father has shared with me, about what his father shared with him, about the war, I’m reminded of a shirt I saw someone wearing a while back, which read…
              “I went all the way to Fiji, and all I got was this T-shirt!”.

            • Gezza

               /  4th April 2017

              Yeah, well, older bro’s got dad’s medals. I messaged him two days ago to see if he can find out whatever happened to the bust of Montgommery that sat in the top of his wardrobe. He thinks it probably got thrown out in mum & dad’s last move to their retirement unit.

              Dad was invalided home from Monte Cassino. He was a machine gunner – vickers & browning. He never talked much about the war, most of them didn’t. Even the ones who frequented the RSA, which dad only rarely did. Most of what dad did tell us about the war we learnt when we were in our teens.

              The stories got repeated from time to time as he got older – many were about things that happened in Cairo on leave, or were otherwise quite humourous. Sometimes about German tactics, being mortared, what a mess Cassino was, the speed with which Italian troops would rush to surrender, they wanted nothing to do with the war – that sort of thing.

              The details never changed when he recounted them years apart. Including the one about a kiwi soldier from a battalion I won’t name blatantly committing a war crime in Italy which was never reported & wouldn’t, I imagine, be the only one.

              I don’t believe our NZSAS committed a war crime in Afghanistan, but nor do I simply believe any bland assurances from a senior military official, or a senior police official for that matter, simply on the basis that they are mandated to have the highest standards of integrity, and therefore, they must have, and they would never cover up details of something not so noble that their troops may have done, or witnessed other allied troops (eg Afghani or US) doing. Serving soldiers are obligated to believe & accept that. We’re not.

  14. chrism56

     /  3rd April 2017

    paul
    The name of that group of houses is actually immaterial. The official government maps show it as Tirgiran and so do the military. What the locals call the area is irrelevant. It is definitely NOT the place that H&S gave the GPS co-ordinates for.
    With regards to the bullets falling short, that was identified in 2010 so why make a big deal of it now. No-one could say then whether the drops actually hit anyone. It was only on investigation, they thought they might. Whether this was by direct hit or just an unfortunate shrapnel injury, we don’t know. There is no coroner’s evidence. The locals’ verbal evidence is definitely tainted – they still live in Taliban territory so cannot be relied upon. None of the locals speak English and H&S or Ms Manning don’t speak the dialect so one is totally dependent on the interpreter. They haven’t even established that they actually live there as none of the authors’ team has actually visited the site. Their photographic evidence, as shown in the book, is farcical. Even Mr Dotcom does better than that.

    Reply
  15. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd April 2017

    It boils down to the fact I noted at the beginning of all this. There is no evidence the attack was motivated by malice or deliberately targeted civilians.

    The Manning article’s main point is that the NZDF has not detailed any investigation or treatment of the casualties during the operation. It may simply be that those facts have not been recorded and are unknown and now unknowable.

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  3rd April 2017

      Exactly Alan. Terrible things happen in war zones, pretty regularly. Just ask BJ. I don’t want to even try to imagine, the things that he has seen…

      Reply
  16. Patupaiarehe, thank you for that. It is a truism that with time one tends to remember all of the good times and the humorous incidents. That is what makes ANZAC Day memorable. I regard the amount of attention that Hager,Stephenson and all of the academic theoretical generals get when they paint a picture of illegality and incompetence laced with appeals to emotion as a sign that they are so removed from the reality of real war that they do not see what is in front of their long noses.

    Reply

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