The recently–released report emanating from the Operation Burnham enquiry in which a review of our Defence Force is recommended, demonstrates an unbelievable degree of ineptitude and outright ignorance amongst the enquiry team. The enquiry panel included two military members (one retired) amongst its highly-politicised makeup, but dominated mostly by bureaucrats with no military experience at all.
recommendations is a clear proposal that civilians must have a far greater
involvement in on-the-ground future military operations than at present.
Really? And just how might that
translate in the following scenario:
An NZDF soldier is patrolling a village in a Middle-Eastern country in which ISIS terrorists are very active. Approaching her checkpoint is a person clothed head to foot in a traditional garment with only their eyes uncovered. The person is holding a small child by the hand and should not be out on the street - there is a “curfew” in place. The gender of the person cannot be determined. The soldier’s instructions are to require any curfew-breaker to halt, identify themselves and the reason they are breaking curfew. Should they desist or refuse to stop, the NZ soldier is then entitled to......?
Let us proceed - the
NZ soldier hesitates, thinking, now what exactly are the “rules of engagement”
which the Wellington bureaucrats recently introduced to “guide” us? Am I permitted to fire - exempting of course
the child? Should I withhold fire and allow the adult and child to approach the
checkpoint? Should I.......BOOM!
The adult, child and
the NZ soldier are blown to pieces - the adult was, it turns out, an ISIS
suicide bomber wired to detonate explosives under the traditional garment. ISIS
of course, along with many other terrorist organisations, use women, children
and older people as “human shields”. Oh dear! So sad!
But wait, Wellington
has a solution - integrate far more bureaucrats into the decision-making,
including operational decision-making in NZDF activities! The bureaucrats will
have the answer! And God help the poor old “baggy-arse “ soldier who has to
make an on-the-spot decision involving life and death.
Of course this
scenario would never happen, would it, if the current Defence Force Review
group would have its way? Well, I can
assure readers that this scenario has happened, on many occasions, in past
operations. Indeed, the author was involved in exactly this scenario - but
which fortunately had a far less grisly outcome. Whew!
The Minister of
Defence has announced his and his colleagues complete acceptance of the Review
Group’s recommendations, following the Operation Burnham Enquiry in which,
inter alia, an Afghani child was accidentally killed-by an American Apache
helicopter assault, but originally claimed to be murder by our SAS according to
Nicky Hagar and Jon Stephenson in their appalling and dishonest treatise - Hit
and Run. These charlatans promoted the concept that our soldiers,
especially our SAS troopers are out of control psychopaths who will blast
anything in sight. Their now-debunked claims do little to appease the
desperately difficult situations in which NZDF personnel find themselves when
deployed on overseas operations.
The enemies of “democracy”
- whatever that term means in New Zealand today - do not differentiate on the
basis of political identity - gender, ethnicity, age, religious beliefs, sexual
preferences and other “differences” - as this report might suggest. Nor do they
recognise the fundamentally decent principles on which our “Western”
democracies are, or were once, based. They totally reject most of the
fundamental concepts upon which our society is based, preferring instead to
behead or enslave anyone who might disagree with them, and especially women.
So, just what is this
“integration” of policy between the NZDF and the Ministry of Defence.
Translated, this means that the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence must
have much more say and involvement in operational matters.
2.Strenthen the above
integration throughout the deployment lifecycle. In other words, bureaucrats
must have an ongoing, ie operational ,involvement during a deployment to ensure
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, plus the Department of the Prime
Minister and Cabinet are involved in and able to influence on the ground
3.Ensure future senior
NZDF are politically “educated”, including the establishment of “Policy
Advisers -POLAD” to ensure political considerations are taken into account at
all stages of a deployment, regardless of what is happening at the ”sharp” end.
4.Review HQ NZDF by integrating a “policy” function into the
lifecycle of a deployment; reducing the span of control of the Office of CDF;
and require NZDF Public Affairs to increase
it’s disclosure of what could be key military information. In other
words, bureaucrats must be closely involved in operational deployments and the
public much more aware of on the ground operations.
5.Downgrade the role of Special Forces such as NZSAS and
ensure future NZSAS personnel are “politically educated” – it is described as
“developing political acumen and a better understanding of the wider government
authorising environment including policy advice processes...” This is a clear instruction to seriously
restrict and undermine the war fighting ethos and capability of our Special
management of “stored information”. The panel is obviously ignorant of the fact
that all military operations include the fastidious maintenance of “war
diaries” by operational units, in which detailed information such as casualties
and other intelligence information and the detailed results of operations, is
recorded. It is a well-established military requirement and tradition that war
diaries are accurate, truthful and reliable indicators for future operations. Obviously,
information on “Operation Burnham” was politically questionable-resulting from the
dishonest and unreliable claims by a couple of “journalists”. In other words,
political issues were given preference.
relationship between the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Data Officer.
This suggests that
there are professional or political differences regarding information and/or
knowledge within NZDF and the Ministry of Defence? Hold on, this used to be
called “intelligence” or “the need to know”.
responsibility for political and public interest knowledge of operations to the
Vice Chief of Defence Force. But surely, this responsibility must ultimately
lie with CDF, not their Vice?
Forces New Zealand to be involved in information systems management. It is
unclear why nor what this recommendation is aimed at.
So, what was this
review all about?
Henare, when commenting upon his adoption of all nine recommendations, stated
that the public and the government must have confidence in our Defence Forces
in the exercising of their “social licence”. This means that the present
government does NOT have confidence in NZDF to carry out it’s military
functions, and therefore must have more input from bureaucrats and political
“policy advisers”. I seem to recall that the Communist Red Army employed
political commissars in their field operations-indeed Nikita Khruschev was one.
socialist government was clearly embarrassed by the adverse publicity generated
by the (now-debunked) false claims of Hagar and Stephenson regarding Operation
Burnham, to the extent that NZDF is being used as a convenient scapegoat, even
though the Operation Burnham Enquiry found that NZDF personnel had acted
lawfully and correctly within the terms of engagement - somebody has to take
the blame, but not the politicians, eh?
And finally, is this
not another example of a group of inept, inexperienced socialist politicians
opting to dump on those in our Defence Force who by convention are not able to
voice their opposition to such stupid recommendations? Of course, NZDF
personnel have no option but to acquiesce to political demands. So be it, but
there could well be in future operations, an unnecessary loss of life because
those on the ground must firstly consider the views of their bureaucratic and
political “advisers”, before taking actions in their own and their allies’
It is an absolute
travesty that instead of praising NZDF for it’s now-proven correct and lawful
actions in Operation Burnham, this neo-Marxist government had to find someone (obviously
our elite SAS) to blame and now seeks to demean those serving New Zealanders
who have devoted their lives to our and others’ defence, but who have no voice
nor option other than to acquiesce. Well, were I still serving, I would tell
them exactly where to put their recommendations. Imagine their response!
Henry Armstrong is retired, follows politics,