Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Official Information Act is your friend

About a month ago, out of curiousity mostly, I asked the government a few questions about what exactly New Zealand soldiers were doing in Iraq. Chief among these questions was "have they shot at anyone?". The answer, it seems, is "no":

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) light engineer group in Basrah conducts monthly range practices on gazetted ranges in order to maintain weapon-handling skills. The typical ammunition expended during practice is 100 rouns of 9mm pistol ammunition, 2 belts of 5.56mm machine gun ammunition and 1-2000 rounds of 5.56mm rifle ammunition.

There has been one alleged accidental discharge of an NZDF weapon, currently under investigation, which took place on a gazetted range during a controlled training activity and involved no risk to human life or property. There has been no occurence of NZDF weapons being fired other than on a controlled range during training.

This has reassured me that, despite the fact that their rebuilding efforts haven't really achieved much, the deployment is mostly harmless. This doesn't mean that I particularly want them to stick around - it seems to be getting too dangerous, and it doesn't really seem worthwhile given their ineffectual rebuilding efforts - but it does mean that, at least for the moment, I can remain happy about it.