Monday, July 22, 2019


When allegations emerged that civilians had been killed during an SAS raid in Afghanistan, NZDF was absolutely unequivocal in its denials, both the Ministers and the public. Since then, we've learned that they were well aware that there were reports that people had been killed. Whether they knowingly lied to us to protect their reputation is one of the central questions the inquiry is supposed to answer. And the inquiry is sufficiently uncomfortable about the evidence it has that rather than doing it all behind closed doors, it is going to force NZDF to face public cross-examination about its honesty:

The Inquiry into Operation Burnham issued an order for NZ Defence Force to appear during five days of public hearings and explain discrepancies which have emerged in its evidence.


The discrepancy was such the Inquiry said evidence about what NZDF knew, and what it then relayed to the Beehive, should be examined in public hearings.

The Inquiry said NZDF "made firm statements publicly that no civilian casualties occurred" and went on to support ministers making similar statements.

"These actions were taken despite the repeated allegations of civilian casualties in the media and elsewhere from immediately after the Operation until the present.

"Given that the statements of NZDF and ministers were made publicly, the Inquiry considers that they should be explained publicly."

Good. Though it will be interesting to see whether it is just the current NZDF leadership, or those who were in charge at the time (including former Governor-General Lt General Jerry Mateparae) who will face questioning. And it will also be interesting to see whether they answer, or try to hide behind another wall of bullshit.

Meanwhile, if you read the briefing to the Prime Minister in that article, their description of Operation Burnham claims that NZ troops were actively opposed by "a large number of armed insurgents, operating in small groups" who "attempted to outflank the force and fire on it from high ground". Which doesn't seem to fit with any description of what happened at all. Were NZDF talking up their raid to make themselves seem more heroic as well? And if they do such things, how can any of us trust them about anything?