Still in Denial.

Written By: - Date published: 9:12 am, April 4th, 2018 - 46 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, afghanistan, journalism, Politics, war - Tags: , , ,

Crosspost from No Right Turn.

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NZDF head Lt General Tim Keating has unexpectedly resigned, just two months before his term of office was meant to end. But he wants everyone to know that it has absolutely nothing to do with alleged war crimes committed by his men in Afghanistan in 2010, or the lies he told about them:

The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating has announced he is stepping down from his role.

Keating announced the move in an email sent to all Defence Force staff on Tuesday.

He did not give a reason for his resignation, but said he was not standing down due to the allegations about Operation Burnham in 2010 which was the subject of the book Hit & Run.

From his email, he’s still in complete denial about those crimes, publicly at least. But this sort of resignation, so soon after being exposed as a liar, and on the eve of the government announcing an inquiry into NZDF’s coverup, seems… suspicious, neh? Almost as if he is jumping overboard after something unpleasant was finally forced to light.

But a mere public inquiry may not be enough. If war crimes have been committed, their perpetrators and accessories after the fact (which almost certainly includes Keating) need to be prosecuted. And that’s a job for the courts, not an inquiry.

—————————————-

Very Important Note – anyone suggesting or claiming that Tim Keating is a war criminal, or linking to any article that asserts it, will be booted off the site for an absolute minumum of 2 years. No exceptions.

46 comments on “Still in Denial.”

  1. Bill 1

    Very Important Note – anyone suggesting or claiming that Tim Keating is a war criminal, or linking to any article that asserts it, will be booted off the site for an absolute minumum of 2 years. No exceptions.

    • Stunned Mullet 1.1

      Best you make this post comment free Bill it’ll save a lot of moderator time and angst.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        Actually. That’s not such a bad idea. Post now fully moderated. Comments will be released on an “as and when” basis.

    • DoublePlusGood 1.2

      I am very confused by the very important note because I would have instantly bagged myself a permanent ban, given what I would have said.

      Anyway, hopefully Keating stays out of the public service for good and retires, preferably to the Snares Islands.

      [lprent: You shouldn’t be confused. You should be getting off your arse and find out the legalities that you are exposing yourself (and me to).

      Making an bald assertion that a speculation or an opinion is actually a fact about an individual is defamation. The only thing that remains to convict is to take it to court and YOU failing to definitively show that what you asserted is a verifiable fact.

      If you can’t then the only thing that is left to do is to assess the damages that you or we have to pay.

      There are nuances based on public interest but I really can’t be arsed making legal precedence because a ignorant lazy fool doesn’t understand the legal world we live in.

      So we simplify it, and tell you what the direct consequences will be to the stupid idiot who makes us liable. ]

  2. shorts 2

    I hope he is replaced with someone whom places their duty towards the NZ Public and those they serve with in higher regard

    • Anne 2.1

      I’m mindful of Helen Clark’s choice for the position of CDF, Bruce Ferguson. It was a good choice imo. He went on to become Director of the GCSB but was forced into an early retirement to make way for Key’s man, Ian Fletcher.

      It will be interesting to see who is appointed in Keating’s place. It should by rights be a naval officer if its based on all three wings of the DF getting a turn at the top.

      • crashcart 2.1.1

        It is no longer based off which service is due its turn. It will have been 20 years since I joined in Jan next year. In that time the only non Army person to fill the role was CDF when I joined. This is actually the correct way to do things. I would much rather the person to head the NZDF is selected based upon their capability and the respect serving people have for them as Gen Keating was.

        Having dealt with him directly on many occasions and having seen the very good work he has done leading Operation Respect and ensuring that the NZDF is far more focused on creating a safe and inclusive work place I will be sad to see him go.

      • Richard 2.1.2

        The Kiitteridge report on the GCSB suggests Ferguson was not a good choice to control a TV remote control, let alone a spy agency.

    • Exkiwiforces 2.2

      It’s more likely to be someone from the Navy or Airforce as they have some rather big ticket items coming up for replacement (note any upgrades this time round may carry a lot more risk time, as the airframes are over 50yrs old and may have bugger all hrs left in them post 2025) in the short to medium term as they will have a better understanding in explaining to the pollies/ joe public and be able to support the two service chiefs as well.

      • dukeofurl 2.2.1

        The Vice Chief of Defence has the responsibility for evaluating and recommending new equipment, not the Chief.
        I think this post was created after the Dodson scandal so as to prevent service chiefs from pushing their own barrows and shredding the documents and careers of those who disagreed.
        Of course the Minister and cabinet would have the final say.

        • Exkiwiforces 2.2.1.1

          Yes you correct that VCDF is in change of evaluation and the recommendation for new equipment/ upgrades. But the CDF is the senior defence advisor to his Minister and to the PM/ his or her cabinet IRT to the best CoA that should be taken IRT in new equipment etc or the best CoA for direct or indirect military action.

          On my last trip to NZ I had very interesting conversation with the officer in charge of the M113 and the CVR(T) replacement vehicles. In which Dobson disbanded the RNZAC Directive office IOT to push through his agenda of the LAV’s with no or little thought on the A ech vehicles or the crewing of the vehicles. The plan was to have to 2 SQNs of Gun wagons and 2 SQNs of an APC type vehicle aka the Aussie Bushmaster with reinforced Support SQN to support the two Battle Groups. Needless to say Dobson’s plain fell over in heap big time which in turn stuffed up NZDF in the long term.

      • Sam 2.2.2

        From my reading of the situation NZDF has major malfunctions with inexperienced tactical commanders with in a coalition force. And NZDF is scrambling to address this as in Iraq deployment.

        I would say there is a difference between a competent or even highly competent commander, and one that is brilliant.

        A brilliant commander devises new strategies and tactics. A highly competent commander can take these new strategies and employ them before the military itself has even considered the concept.

        From my reading, General Guderian was very brilliant with his strategic changes such as Blitzkrieg. Mobile warfare, or maneuver warfare. Patton was highly competent in taking these concepts and adapting them to his formations and using them effectively. Guderian was brilliant, Patton was competent.

        Thing is, a military doesn’t necessarily need brilliant commanders to function. It is my understanding that NZDF is very by the book, of sorts. We didn’t really develop all new doctrine or radically shape the battlefield (except in some of our dug out designs). But they are competent and took what worked from other militaries and applied them.

        You can have brilliant commanders, but be surrounded by incompetent commanders. Or you can have a largely competent military that can quickly learn from other brilliant commanders. Mind you, those aren’t your only choices. But its interesting with the distinction between the two. If you can have some brilliant commanders surrounded by competent ones, that is a very good thing to have.

        • Exkiwiforces 2.2.2.1

          Yes Sam you are correct your assumption in it tactical commanders across 3 services and is a result of the lost decade under National back in 90’s when about 25% of the defence budget was cut. The chickens came home roost during INTERFET and the high level of concurrent Operations that place post INTERFET which left very little to pause for retraining, rest and having put with Dobson’s/ Fregies rock show etc before they were getting ready to go back on Ops.

          The warning signs were there post Bosnia Ops, the Government of the day refuse to listen to the concerns of NZDF that they were hurting due to the cuts, the lack of numbers in manning, ageing or lack of equipment which didn’t help the fact the ADF were offing high pay rates, better conditions of service etc to any Kiwi who was prepared to jump across the ditch back then post Bosnia, during ET and post ET. Those that jump across the ditch or across the pond to the UK were junior rank OR’s and the junior/ middle rank officers with a few senior officers at command rank across all 3 services.

          They (NZDF) just getting back to a even keel now, but a lot of awful damage has been done because of politics at Government level and at Senior level of the NZDF.

          I feel time is not on the side of the men and women of NZDF atm, the last two terms of last Government and the current one are refusing to learn from past mistakes of Governments since 91 as it’s of too little too late again.

          How much blood has to be split before Government learns it needs to put money into defence where fancy words no longer cut it?

          I’ve loss a mate because of this misguided PR/ PC shit from Governments since 91 and if he had survived has ET trip with 2nd/1st he would’ve jumped across the ditch to become Dirt Dart (paratrooper) with 3RAR. But was KIA as a lead scout with faulty ROE’s, OFOF and depending on who you talk to the Section Cdr who shouldn’t have been there leading that Section on that day. But that what’s happens when you cut defence to the bone and you expect them to preform miracles with sweet **** all something has give in the end.

  3. Pat 3

    Is there any difference to any enquiry if he is no longer serving re what his obligations are?…i.e. what difference to any enquiry will his early resignation make if any?

  4. alwyn 4

    Why do you describe it as being “unexpected”.
    All he has done is confirm that he will be retiring at the end of June when his term is up. As far as I can see from Wiki no Head of the New Zealand defence force has ever served more than one term.
    There doesn’t seem to be anything at all unexpected about it.

    • crashcart 4.1

      The previous CDF Gen Mataparai served two terms. It didn’t happen before due to the tradition of selecting each term from a different branch of the forces. That changed when Gen Fergusson’s term came to an end and rather than just going for Navy they chose Jerry.

      • dukeofurl 4.1.1

        You have got that slightly wrong. There wasnt a tradition of rotation through the 3 services at all.
        It was a cosy club between the Navy and Airforce with very rarely an Army guy , and only when the Army was seen as being sufficiently ‘international.’

        Fegussson, who was Airforce, broke the mold, as he at the time was only Brigadier/Commodore rank and jumped over the heads of all the rest to take the CDF job.
        We should go back to that selection method, chose absolutely the best from amoung all the officers with ‘one star’ and above , not just give the next ‘his turn’

        • crashcart 4.1.1.1

          Been a long time. I was going to say Fergusson was Air force but thought there was a CDF between him and Jerry. Currently it is based upon best and appointment so CDF can jump. I honestly don’t know what the talent at top of Army and Airforce are like but I could see someone not currently fulfilling a Service Chief role getting the job.

  5. veutoviper 5

    It would be interesting to see Keating’s actual email for its exact wording but to date this does not appear to have emerged via the main media, from a quick check I have done. I may be mistaken so if anyone finds a copy, it would be good to post it.

    Some seem to see it as a “resignation” – eg NRT; others as “stepping down” -eg Stuff as per the link in the post.

    The Herald has gone with him “not seeking reappointment” and references to his “departure” not “resignation” etc.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12025340

    Defence Force chief Lieutenant-General Tim Keating is stepping down from the role, but says Operation Burnham had no influence in his decision.

    He won’t seek reappointment at the end of his term on June 30.

    The Herald also states:

    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) referred all questions to Defence Minister Ron Mark’s office.

    Mark said in a statement that there was a big programme of work ahead for the NZDF and he believed now was the right time for the next leader to “stand up, be part of the decision-making process and own those decisions”.

    Read into that what you may.

    Related a

  6. dukeofurl 6

    I thought these sort or people – military officers- had to put in ‘requests to resign’

    His bio seems to indicate an average sort of officers career
    http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/about-us/key-personnel/cdf.htm
    Captain 1988
    Major ? but about 97.
    Colonel 2004

    And then takes off with a series of rapid promotions, you would think someone in government from 2009 really really wanted this guy.
    Brigadier 2009
    major general 2011
    Lieutenant general 2014

    • Exkiwiforces 6.1

      Usually OR’s and Officers are required to give 3-2mths notice if they leaving the Defence Force and as I said yesterday, I think he knew he wasn’t going to get his extension or was tap on the shoulder by the current government that he wasn’t in the running and his comments about Op Burnham to the fourth estate probably didn’t help either.

      As for his rapid promotion post 2009 could be due to a number of reasons as the Dobson and Jerry show forced a lot of good officers out of the NZ Army by a number of ways which would’ve caused a shortage at CO/ Staff level around the 09 onwards.

      • crashcart 6.1.1

        He is stepping down in June. That is about 3 months he probably gave notice last month. Even were he giving shorter notice it would only require he complete a MD 718 as opposed to 717 which requests early release with the end of his term as CDF given for the reason of early termination.

        • Exkiwiforces 6.1.1.1

          That is correct.

        • dukeofurl 6.1.1.2

          But it is still technically a ‘request’, which in unusual circumstances could be declined for some months, is that correct. After all he could be put on gardening leave and only come in ‘as required’

          • crashcart 6.1.1.2.1

            Yes correct. Technically he could have his request to leave declined. There does have to be very good reason for this as it tends to have a far more negative effect than just letting the person go.

            Being in the military you get use to everything being a request. Be it going on leave over seas or as simple as deciding you want to grow a beard. In reality there are solid rules around when a request can and can’t be denied.

          • crashcart 6.1.1.2.2

            Also gardening leave is not really a thing. You can’t really end a post and then get posted into a lower rank job (if your rank was substantive). This is the reason CDF is considered a terminal post. Once you have done it that is the end of your time in the NZDF as there is no where to go up.

            • dukeofurl 6.1.1.2.2.1

              So different rule then for Temporary- Acting-Sub- Lieutenants then . LOL

  7. adam 7

    More theater?

    Just seems to be a merry-go-round of stories at the moment, in the theater stakes.

    What I’d like to see is a real investigation of all parties involved so we know without a shred of doubt – what happened. I’m thinking the investigation will probably have to be a third party at this point. To many people, know to many people, in this small country. So we need a third party to have somthing without bias.

  8. Wayne 8

    As I understand it he is going through to the end of his term in June. He has actually had two terms, not one. Quite common for a CDF to do two terms. But I have never heard of anyone doing three.
    So not an “unexpected resignation”. In fact quite the opposite, fully expected since he has come to the natural end of being CDF.
    Overall he has been quite well regarded in his role. He bought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the task.

    • crashcart 8.1

      Are you sure about 2 terms Wayne. I could have sworn he has only done a single. The only CDF I am aware of that has done 2 terms was Jerry. Either way completely agree that there is nothing strange about this. Completely expected.

      • bwaghorn 8.1.1

        So he gets to run and hide like Dr disrepair Coleman

      • Freddo 8.1.2

        Crashcart, Jerry M served 4 years 267 days as CDF (1May 2006-23 Jan 2011). Tim Keating will have done 4 years 169 days when retires on 30 June (started term as CDF 1/2/2014), so I think that means he has done same number of terms as Jerry, as Wayne says. Rhys Jones, who was CDF between Jerry M and Tim K did 3 years 7 days.

        Like you I will also be sad to see Keating go after his work on Op Respect.

        As for Dukeofurl’s comment on Keating seeming to have an average career before 2009, CO of 1 NZSAS Group (as it was when he was CO from 1999-2001) has seldom been a position for any sort of average career officer.

        • crashcart 8.1.2.1

          I guess it is a case of the years going faster as you get older. It seemed like Jerry was CDF for a long time where as Tim seems to have been far more normal.

          I wasn’t going to mention his time with NZSAS as that probably has more negative connotations around here. It is probably a big reason as to why he advanced quickly. You do see it often though. My old CO on Canterbury has had a very fast rise. I would not be surprised to see him moving into a CN role when it comes up.

        • dukeofurl 8.1.2.2

          Freddo, my point was that after a top field role like NZSAS the remaining jobs are essentially bureaucratic.

          Commanding Officer Cadet school
          Special projects….
          Strategy management…blah blah
          From 2001 to 2009 he was in limbo as a Colonel in desk jobs and a degree course.

          Then suddenly in 2009 its Brigadier and fast steps to the very top.

          Someone was pushing his career and the one person commenting here who would know isnt saying much about that!

          • Wayne 8.1.2.2.1

            Brigadiers are appointed within the system. Minister don’t influence those.
            The next level, Major General is ministerial influenced. At that point you are choosing between 3 or 4 Brigadiers, but in truth usually only 2 matter. At least 1 will be “overage”. Tim was the obvious choice for Chief of Army. As for CDF, that happened after I left, but my understanding is that he was the obvious choice for that position as well.
            It is common for accelerated promotions from Brigadier onward. Sir Jerry and Rhys Jones were both examples of that.
            Same thing happens in larger countries as well for the higher ranks, at an even faster rate. I have seen US Generals go from 1 star to 4 stars in just over 4 years, basically a promotion every year.

  9. Wayne 9

    Pretty sure. The initial appointment was for 3 years, the extension was for 18 months or close to that, with an end date of 30 June.
    So four and a half years is a good innings.

  10. dukeofurl 10

    A bit of history about a previous Army general in NZ and a cover up in 2001.

    “The Army’s commanding officer, Major-General Maurice Dodson, will serve out his remaining four months in the job despite an internal investigation describing his role in the shredding of sensitive Army documents as “unwise and inappropriate”.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=219958

    “General Dodson, whose title is Chief of General Staff, became the subject of the investigation after his deputy, Brigadier Lou Gardiner, complained about an order to shred a document relevant to other pending inquiries into the Army’s behaviour and Defence Force relations.”

    I wonder if the shredders have been busy again recently?

    I remember at the time there were a lot of documents missing from the files as well as known reports shredded.

  11. Ken 11

    This reminds me of when John Key took to his heels and fled.

  12. mary_a 12

    So Keating did not give a reason for his resignation. But said it’s nothing to do with Operation Burnham!

    The lies still rolling off the prick’s tongue! Maybe his future is as a liars united Natz MP. Northcote byelection coming up Tim lad!

  13. Anne 13

    OK, so the ‘experts’ here have now had a say and I respect all of you for the information you have provided.

    But there is one aspect that can’t be brushed under the carpet, and I refer of course to “Hit and Run”. Perhaps it was Keating’s misfortune that book was published during his watch.

    I can understand why someone who himself was a former SAS soldier would find the revelations hard to accept, but anyone who has read the book with a reasonably open mind would know that the information contained therein is correct. There is no way Hager and Stephenson or anyone else could have made those facts up – especially as they are backed up with such compelling evidence.

    So, while Keating may have been a splendid CDF in every other respect, he has done himself and NZ a disfavour by choosing to deny that the mission in question went horribly wrong. He even attempted to distract attention away from the truth by having a public hissy fit over a very minor geographical error.

    Not a good look… not a good look at all.

  14. Jamie 14

    Should New Zealand even have a defence force of any kind? Our forces are token at best and a massive waste of taxpayers money. Give it to the Coast Guard, they at least have some relevance.

    • Sam 14.1

      That would make trade cost prohibitive. You could try sailing through pirate infested waters with out an escort or even rent the US navy for a time. People do do that.

  15. Cinny 15

    Thanks for this thread, interesting reading, much appreciated.

    Lolz I’ve a question but am freaking out that I’ll be banned, will word it carefully.

    Just to clarify, in this situation where someone has resigned pre-inquiry, would the courts be the only option for accountability?

    • Matthew Whitehead 15.1

      Well, it certainly rules out firing them. They could also look into retroactively dishonourably discharging anyone involved who resigned if they are found culpable of serious wrongdoing, it’s a symbolic gesture but it could be important for the organizational culture of the NZDF to prevent future incidents like Operation Burnham if wrongdoing is indeed found in the inquiry.

      The courts are a serious option and would require a high standard of evidence against specific individuals, and I would suggest that it’s expecting a lot that some people want prosecutions to be brought before we even know the nature of the evidence, and so as long as we get a proper independent investigation that doesn’t rely on the NZDF’s version of events, that’s the most we should expect as a guarantee IMO. After that it’s really about what’s found and whether the recommendations match up properly with what can reasonably be concluded and what people are actually legally responsible for.

      The thing moderators will be watching for is any claims that specific individuals, or the NZDF as a whole, are responsible for things that are demonstrably a crime, as that is definitely a defamation risk. Talking in hypotheticals like you’re doing is a good idea, but I’d still not mention the magic words just in case. 😉 I imagine Bill and LPrent will be tolerant and warn anyone who’s clearly trying to do their bit to avoid getting the site sued.

      • Cinny 15.1.1

        Thanks Matthew for your reply and info, much appreciated and really helpful 🙂

    • Exkiwiforces 15.2

      To answer your questions,

      The inquiry should be a Royal Commission, but the strength of the Royal Commission will come down to the terms of reference and the power to summon the key decision makers (both Military and at Government at level) and the direct action team who was on the ground that night.

      If the Royal Commission findings suggest there is case for charging a person or persons for any crime or crimes committed then it should go to court. Which in my POV would make for an interesting court case regardless if it’s a successful outcome or not a successful outcome and it could open a real can of worms or set a legal precedent regarding possible future military operations weather it’s warlike or non warlike.

      Please note I have made POV back in a number of threads IRT Op Burnham this last year.

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