And so the Dom-Post devotes its editorial to Cabinet's deliberations today - it begins:
The death of New Zealand businessman Timothy Mackay in the Jakarta bomb blast last month is a reminder that terrorism threatens the physical, as well as the economic wellbeing, of New Zealanders.
For that reason, it is proper for the Government to consider the United States' request for more New Zealand forces, including the SAS, to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Together with neighbouring Pakistan another struggling state that has become a petri dish for terrorism Afghanistan presents the biggest threat to global peace and security. While al Qaeda and the Taleban are able to regroup and foment hatred of the West within the borders of the two countries no-one, anywhere, is safe.
But the extent and nature of any role played by New Zealand troops should be determined by this country in accordance with its interests. The SAS should not be deployed to curry favour with the US, no matter the blandishments or the increasingly unsubtle hints of US officials.
We concur with that sentiment. Any decision to deploy troops, especially our most elite, is not one to be taken lightly, but as the leader writer notes, its relevance to New Zealand's interests must be paramount. However, the editorial supports the likely decision to deploy the SAS:
However, requests for the return of the SAS to Afghanistan should be looked upon favourably. Contrary to the assertion of former National defence spokesman Simon Power, it is not a case of where the US goes, we go.
Although it would be foolish to think that New Zealand troops have not in the past been used to earn brownie points in foreign capitals, that is not a sound basis on which to proceed. The test for deployment should be whether New Zealand troops can make a positive contribution, whether they can operate according to best practice, whether they can operate honourably and whether the Defence Force has the resources to sustain another mission.
Those conditions rule out the mentoring role favoured by the US because it would team the SAS with less-skilled Afghan troops. They would also appear to require clearer rules of engagement. The last SAS deployment to Afghanistan, marked by a presidential citation for "extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action", was, according to unconfirmed reports, marred by the mistreatment of prisoners handed over to allied forces by the SAS. There can be no repeat.
And the leader writer concludes, reminding us that the SAS will be headed into very dangerous ground; something which may well have political consequences for John Key and his Government, but noting that we have a role, albeit small on the world stage:
John Key's Government is understandably reluctant to see Kiwis return home in body bags, but if it can secure understandings about the way the SAS will operate, then this country should again do its bit to advance the cause of global security.