Saturday, February 16, 2013

A denial from Defence

The Herald's lead story this morning was of a "leaked report" suggesting that New Zealand troops sent to Afghanistan were inadequately trained.

We've just received the following by e-mail:

UNCLASSIFIED Media Release: 

Statement from the Vice Chief of Defence Force - Major General Tim Keating:

Media Release

16 February 2013

Statement from the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Major General Tim Keating

A report in the NZ Herald today that states the Defence Force sent ill-prepared soldiers to Afghanistan is incorrect.

Our pre-deployment training (PDT) is designed for individual missions on a case by case requirement to ensure that troops are adequately prepared for a broad range of situations they will and may encounter once deployed into their mission area.

When CRIB 20 assumed command they had been independently assessed as capable, having completed all the appropriate PDT and in-theatre training. CRIB 20 personnel were focused, positive and ready to get on with the job.

The leaked report mentioned in the Herald article is only one report written by one of 23 evaluators and mentors (Subject Matter Experts) who observed Exercise Afghan Step (the field exercise portion of CRIB 20 Pre Deployment Training).?On completion of Ex Afghan Step each evaluator provided his / her assessment of the contingent’s readiness within their specific area of expertise. These assessments were aggregated by the Army’s Collective Training Centre and submitted to Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. Any areas of concern were addressed with further training. On review, the bulk of the comments made in the report referred to were not reflected in the final status report. It should also be noted that it was the first time that the author of those comments had observed on a PDT exercise.

There is always a requirement for some level of in-theatre/country specific training for any mission, this in theatre training also addressed the areas identified for further training during Ex Afghan Step in NZ. 

The highest priority is given to ensuring the safety of our personnel while in theatre.


Regular readers will know that three generations of our whanau have served New Zealand in war. We have no difficulty whatsoever in accepting the NZDF's assurance that personnel safety is their highest priority. The media release from the NZDF makes it clear that what the Herald published is the leaked opinion of just one out of 23 evaluators, and that the concerns raised were addressed with additional training.

It begs the question however; what is the Herald's motivation in trying to discredit the NZDF? The men and women who serve New Zealand in peace-time and in war deserve better than this misleading and biased offering served up this morning.


Missy said...

The article is very one-sided, and it is obvious (as seems to be a usual situation), the NZDF were not asked for a statment prior to publication, maybe because the NZ Herald knew that the article would not stand up to scrutiny. Hardly balanced journalism.

I trust that our soldiers are well trained before deploying, however, something that seems to escape our media, and some of the general public is that no amount of training will keep you completely safe. It is tragic that CRIB 20 suffered such a high number of casualties, but I don't believe it was due to training. The NZ Herald, or rather David Fisher specifically, appears to have an agenda that is anti-defence.

On a more pedantic note, I see that the updated story starts with the words "Army Chiefs...." I assume they are referring to MAJGEN Keating in that reference, however, as their article correctly refers to him, he is the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, I note that there is no reference to Acting Chief of Army Brigadier Kelly, in fact no mention of Army Chiefs in the article at all. MAJGEN Keating may be a senior army officer, but he is not an army chief. Just more sloppiness on the part of NZ Herald, I might take them more seriously if they can get some basics right first.

Missy said...

I should clarify, I meant the original article is one-sided, not the subsequent follow-up article.