NZDF Media Conference regarding the book Hit and Run
The New Zealand Defence Force today held a media conference on claims made in the book Hit and Run by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating began by saying NZDF had taken the necessary time to look at what has been alleged in the book. He then outlined a background of the NZDF-led raid under question. Lt Gen Keating listed the measures taken to minimise risks to the team, highlighting the attack that killed Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell. 'Operation Burnham' followed, but he insisted that “revenge was never a driver”.
Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating.
Lt Gen Keating named the two villages, Khak Khuday Dad and Naik, that were mentioned and located with geo-reference points in Hit and Run.. Lt Gen Keating stated that NZDF had never conducted operations in those villages, and that the operation they carried out was 2km to the South. Squadron Leader Leon Fox was invited to explain the geographical locations of the villages in relation to where Operation Burnham was executed.
Lt Gen Keating went on to describe the operations of the SAS, stating that coalition aircraft were given permission to engage insurgent groups. Head of NZDF Legal Services Colonel Lisa Ferris was called on to explain the ISAF investigation, referring to the Law of Armed Conflict as the applicable legal framework. She stated that, mistakes and malfunctions can happen and unfortunately, having civilian casualties is not unlawful.
In response to questions, Lt Gen Keating said camera footage proved nine insurgents were killed during Operation Burnham. In regards to the statement that there “may have been” civilian casualties “because of a mishap with a gun”, Lt Gen Keating explained that it is “believed” there were civilians in the area.
He said he is not aware of any other attacks on the other two villages that could have been confused with Operation Burnham. Lt Gen Keating insisted that “it is irrefutable that we operated in a different place” than what was described in Hit and Run.
Squadron Leader Leon Fox
Head of NZDF Legal Services Colonel Lisa Ferris