Wayne Mapp’s Dukakis moment

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 am, April 2nd, 2008 - 44 comments
Categories: national - Tags:


Following the first incident of a New Zealand vehicle being attacked by an improvised mine, National’s Defence Spokesman Wayne Mapp has attacked the Government over the fact the NZ military in Afghanistan do not have any of our new LAV armoured vehicles.

The problem with Mapp’s attack is it is the Army, not the Government, that decides what weapons systems are needed for a mission. They don’t want the LAVs because their armour is not needed and riding in armoured vehicles rather than the 4x4s they have would create a distance between them and the locals that could lead to an air of intimidation and hostility. Wayne Mapp is really saying he knows better than the Army what military equipment is suitable for this mission.

If we look deeper, Mapp’s attack is a model National move. It is a hollow, media-motivated attack not backed up by research, principle, or experience. These attacks can only succeed if the media accept them at face value. Fortunately, in this case National Radio spoke to the Army, Defence Minister Goff, and Ron Mark, a former Army Captain. Mapp’s attack was exposed as politicking by a man who either has no knowledge of his portfolio or prefers to put political point-scoring first.

The last thing our soldiers need is politicians making operational decisions in combat zones for political gain. Mapp deserves to be laughed out of his spokesmanship.

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44 comments on “Wayne Mapp’s Dukakis moment”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Ron Mark will be a sad loss to parliament if NZ fisrt tanks this election – I suspect he would make a first rate Minister of Defence or Police under a Labour or National government.

  2. andy 2

    Mapp’s idea dove tails with Nats tough on crime talk, if you look tough bad people will be scared into being good.

    What he does not understand is that the less imposing and threatening our armed forces (and police – Ruatoki raids (sp)) look the more likely you are to get the locals on side and co operating. The poms purposely did not wear helmets and armor in Basra for that exact effect, not that it lasted.

    Thats why its called ‘Peace Keeping’.

    What happened to MR PC eradication?

  3. Graeme 3

    Ron Mark is not the only MP with military experience.

    Richard Worth was a Captain in the Navy, and commanded the Naval Reserve. Wayne Mapp was an intelligence office in the territorials. Heather Roy joined the territorials as a soldier a couple of years back.

    [Graeme Edgeler, why do you know stuff like that? It’s impressive but scary too. SP]

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    If you’re unfimiliar with the Dukakis reference – he was a Democrat presidential candidate, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dukakis who ran against Bush snr in 1988. Trying to look tough he had a photo op in a tank. A slightly prim, upper-class New Englander, he looked distinctly uncomfortable and totally out of place. The image haunted him for the rest of the election, which he lost in a landslide. It is remembered as one worst backfires in a campaign event ever.

    The photo combining Dukakis and Mapp took longer to do than the text. Hope y’ll enjoy it.

  5. Steve Pierson 5

    Well I didn’t know about Mapp and Worth, thanks for the correction – but I refuse to count Roy for that publicity stunt at taxpayers’ expense.

  6. higherstandard 6


    Unfair regarding Heather Roy – anyone prepared to go through territorial training deserves Kudos not spitefulness.

  7. andy 7

    So Mapp has military experience! That makes it even worse, he should have an even clearer picture of the chain of command! Including why some decisions that look backward to civilians make military sense.

  8. Ebr 8

    It’s actually Captain Mapp, that’s the rank he attained in the territorials.

  9. Pablo 9

    “Wayne Mapp was an intelligence office in the territorials.”

    Now that is the funniest thing I have heard all week. Talk about being sent into battle without the proper equipment.

  10. the sprout 10

    nice one pablo.

    it’s true however that any skerric of military knowledge, not to mention knowledge of the nz political constitution, makes Mapp’s little media-whoring excercise even more unprincipled.

  11. Steve Pierson 11

    This is the same Wayne Mapp who championed the 90-day Bill to remove workers’ rights for the first 90 days of employment. In the original form he presented, a worker could not take a grievance case against an employer on ANY grounds, including sexual harassment.

    Before the Bill was defeated the unions had forced Mapp to accept the insertion of protections on grounds like sexual harassment. He is damn incompetent he hadn’t thought of that himself.

  12. Tim 12

    Looks like he’s got about as much of a grasp on his Defence portfolio as he had on his Industrial Relations portfolio. I can’t believe he used to be a legal academic. No wonder there are so many incompetent lawyers if that’s the calibre of the tuition.

    Actually under the 90-day Bill you could have still brought a claim for sexual harassment under the Human Rights Act 1993, but you could be justifiably dismissed solely for joining a union. Nevermind that this flies in the face of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 as well as numerous ILO conventions.

  13. Occasional Observer 13

    So having lost the argument on Captain Mapp–that he has no military experience (far more than Phil Goff, whose closest military experience prior to entering Parliament was throwing eggs at Vietnam War veterans), Steve tries a diversionary tactic on a completely separate issue.

    From memory, the last Labour MP with military experience was Geoff Braybrooke.

    Mapp has been National’s defence spokesman in the past. There was major criticism around the time of the LAV purchase about how effectively they would be used. $700 million is a hell of a lot of money to deploy in capital if you’re not going to use it. You, Steve, have no particular expertise in defence procurement or deployment. Wayne Mapp does. It is a legitimate question to ask, whether the LAVs should be deployed to Afghanistan, given the hostile environment.

    By the way, Ron Mark holds the rank of Major, not Captain.

    With all due respect, Steve, after some thirty years involvement in military issues, including as a commissioned officer, I think Wayne Mapp is perfectly entitled to offer a view. Perhaps it is you who should do your research first.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    OO. Whether he has military experience or not is by the by – the point is he attacks the government over the LAVs when that is an operational decision for the Army. He knows that, which means he is just trying to score political points.

    He is also wrong about the need for LAVs in Afghanistan but that is a secondary point.

    Pretty sure National radio said Mark was a Captain but that’s also irrelevant.

  15. Occasional Observer 15

    No, Ron Mark is most absolutely a Major, and has held that rank for at least fifteen years. Here’s a tip. Try not to rely on National Radio for your research.

    The thrust of your argument, Steve, was that Wayne Mapp doesn’t have any military experience, and is therefore not qualified to comment on army operational decisions. The Government is accountable for the operational decisions of the Army. Deployment and resourcing issues are absolutely the domain of Parliament, and MPs, and open to scrutiny. If you’re going to argue that Wayne Mapp should not raise whether the LAVs should be deployed in Afghanistan, then you would have to hold the same blow-torch on all of Goff’s statements on Defence issues.

    By the same token, the ill-fated Chuck Upham RO-RO vessel was a procurement issue for MoD and Defence HQ. That didn’t stop a barrage of criticism from the Labour Party when they were in Opposition.

    Wayne Mapp was honing his artillery skills at Trentham before you were even born, Steve. It is very rich for you to claim he has no right to talk about army operations.

    Do your homework first instead of shooting off at the mouth.

  16. Tim 16

    Keeping a deskchair warm in the territorials hardly counts as military experience.

  17. Steve Pierson 17

    OO. My argument has nothing to do with whether or not Mapp had military experience or is qualified to make judgments on military matters. My argument is

    a) he is wrong to attack the government on the Army’s operational decision on its feild deployments (which is obviously a different kettle of fish from a major capability purchase like the Charles Upham)

    b) (a secondary argument) he is wrong that LAVs are necessary.

    You don’t know my age, nor my level of military experience and I don’t know yours, so keep to the issue.

  18. Steve Pierson 18

    oh,OO, according to the parliamentary website Mark’s highest rank was “Commander, Sultans Special Force Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 1986-1990”, in the Army of Oman.

  19. Occasional Observer 19


    Tell that to the Territorials who make up a quarter of the New Zealand army today, and have served in such places as Sierra Leone, Bosnia, East Timor, Iraq, the Sinai, and Afghanistan. Unless you’ve made a commitment to train for operational service overseas, and the inherent risks involved, you’re on very dodgy ground sneering at the commitment of a person who rose to the rank of Captain.

    Steve says: “If we look deeper, Mapp’s attack is a model National move. It is a hollow, media-motivated attack not backed up by research, principle, or experience.” And then he goes on to say that his argument “has nothing to do with whether or not Mapp had military experience or is qualified to make judgments on military matters.”

    Steve, I well remember the Labour opposition criticising the Government on the suitability of the Army’s use of both LOVs and its radios in various theatres.

    Commander, Sultans Special Forces means that Mark was the Commanding Officer. It is not an army rank. Mark was the Cobras Commanders for several years, holding the army rank of Major.

    Like I say, Steve, it helps your credibility if you do your homework first.

  20. IrishBill 20

    And OO, I remember those criticisms from Labour were the result of concern from within the army itself. I can also remember the radios they were talking about which were heavy and unreliable Veitnam era models, as I recall at one stage 50% of them were out of service at any one time.

    Regardless of Mapp’s experience he called for armour when the army says it is not necessary and he did so to make a political point. No amount of nitpicking over peripheral issues changes this fact but you seem determined to muddy the waters as much as possible. Why?

  21. Jay 21

    It’s shameful that the standard feels the need to politicize what is a genuine concern for the inadequate equipping of army personel in a warzone. Despite Mapp’s years of military service and expertise in this area his opinion obviously counts for nothing to you because he’s a National MP. Why don’t you examine his opinion on merit – that it may save the lives of our soldiers.

    IrishBill says: The experts are the Army. They are the ones who are there and they are the ones who have said there is no current need for Armour. This implies Mapp’s criticism has no merit and is an opportunistic attempt to use a near miss as an excuse to attack the government.

  22. if the Mapp is so very experienced it makes you wonder why he’s trying to pin military operational decisions on the govt? is he really that thick or is he just a disingenuous media whore?

  23. Jay 23

    “They are the ones who are there and they are the ones who have said there is no current need for Armour.”

    Well next time you’re in Afghanistan, serving with a provincial reconstruction team, when driving a jeep when an improvised explosive device goes off nearby sends shards of red-hot shrapnel through your unarmoured vehicle into your body you can tell us how LAV’s are unnecessary.

    IrishBill says: I think I’ll listen to the advice of the Army over the advice of Wayne Mapp. I am starting to feel the need for some kind of protection from the red hot shards of your histrionics however.

  24. ghostwhowalks 24

    More to the point the labour Government has bought ( on the armys recommendation) and practically over the dead bodies of the heads of the Airforce and Navy, a fleet of LAV AND LOV which are allmost defenceless against IED.
    The Aussies have a Bushmaster vehicle which gives much more protection against the IED.
    Like the US Army and Marines the top brass are blind to the dangers for the troops on the ground

  25. Murray 25

    I did eight years in the terries. Back then I was proud of my country and would have gone to war to defend it. Not now, it’s full of useless parasitic fucking wankers who suck on the tit of the taxpayer and deride the people paying for their slothful lifestyles.

  26. Jay 26

    “I am starting to feel the need for some kind of protection from the red hot shards of your histrionics however.”

    Ah obviously there is no danger of IED’s in Afghanistan. It’s all in the imagination of the afghans that their country was heavily mined by the soviets and then by warring factions over a period of 27 years


    Obviously these people are imagining that they are missing limbs blown off by said mine according to Irish bill


    Maybe you should tell them its all histrionics. I’d like to see how that flys with them. Since Afghanistan is also swimming with weapons their reaction would be …. amusing.

    IrishBill says: you’re getting dull now, Jay. The army has said they don’t currently need armour and unlike you I am willing to take the army at their word. I should also warn you that I ban people that deliberately misrepresent my views. One more comment like this and you can take a week.

  27. Jay 27

    Actually I’m on holiday from Tumeke. Say what you want about Bomber but at least he has balls to handle a different viewpoint and argue the contra.

    But at least I’m not the one being flippant and glib about the dangers that our troops face afghanistan for political gain so I suppose I shall feel your ‘wrath’.

    I’ll come back and remind you of my histronics when one of them is kiled or maimed.

  28. Matthew Pilott 28

    Jay, don’t be a stupid ignotant troll. Why areyou tring to repeat Mapp’s idiocy in trying to contradict THE ARMY’S doctrine on use of vehicles?

    As I understand the point of the use of lighter vehicles is to help the reconstruction force work with the locals, as opposed to providing a show of force and cowering them.

    I’ll come back and remind you of my histronics when one of them is kiled or maimed.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you did – using someone’s death to score petty points; you’ve shown a total lack of integrity, character and intillect thus far.

    P.S you’d do well to learn about what our troops are doing over there and how they operate, in contrast to the forces in the links you’ve given, you’re a disgrace.

    Murray, I’d prefer them to rampant bigots who make worthless comments. Just saying.

  29. AncientGeek 29

    As Irish said. The military make their own decisions, same as the police on operational matters.

    In this case I agree with the brass. Afghanistan is a hearts and minds campaign. The troops are there to increase security levels of the locals. You don’t win it if you look and act like a occupying force. It just means that your deployment goes on longer and increases the overall risks. The key to it (most notably in Malaysia) has been shown to be getting effective local intelligence. To get that you need locals giving it voluntarily.

    Anyway, armour of any kind is extremely vulnerable to ambush if they move without infantry support covering them. Especially in a country that is still awash with RPG’s and has a lot of ambush positions where people can fire down on you in narrow passes. That is why the russians lost so much armour in Afghanistan. It really isn’t the location that suits their use.

  30. Jay 30


    Have you actually read anything I wrote?

    Did you check out the links and read them. Maybe if you did you’d have comprehended the environment that our troops are deployed in. Why don’t you do that and come back since you’re obviously adding no value here.

    And as for being a disgrace, who here is arguing for better protection for NZ troops, it’s clearly not you or Irishbill is it?
    If this is what being a disgrace is then I guess that I am. But that still doesn’t detract from the point that you both are advocating that our soldier’s are sent under-equipped into a war zone and are attempting to defend the government’s policy simply because a National MP brought it up instead of examining it on it’s merits of saving our troops lives.

    “you’ve shown a total lack of integrity, character and intillect thus far.”

    If you’re going to insult me then at least do it properly and learn how to spell – it’s intellect – and anchor your assertions in fact which you seem to have shown a cavalier disregard to so far.

    To be honest I don’t know why I replied to your post because it’s clearly moronic and ill-informed.

  31. r0b 31

    I’m wandering in to this thread late Jay, so pardon me if you feel you’ve answered this question already. It’s a simple question so I’d appreciate a simple answer (preferably just a “yes” or a “no”). Question: Do you, Jay, know better than the Army what the Army needs?

  32. Graeme 32

    I understand Ron Mark was a Captain in the New Zealand Army, but rose to the rank of Major in the Omani forces.

  33. AncientGeek 33

    From memory Ron Mark was RF rather than TF.

    While I have a greatest respect for the TF (I was one), the RF have a significantly higher level of skill. I listen to Ron Mark on military matters. Unfortunately I managed somehow to get on a e-mail list from Mapp a few years ago. It really did not impress me at all.

  34. Matthew Pilott 34

    Jay, having spoken to friends serving/who have served in Bamiyan, I’m aware of the environment they’re exposed to. The NZ Army is working towards engagement, not overpowering force.

    Your links are of no relevance, A because they refer to mines in general. The main problem in Afghanistan is IEDs or Independent [Improvised. SP] Explosive Devices. These are not indiscriminant, as mines are. You’re less likely to be a target for these if you’re in the PRT than if you’re part of the force charging through the mountains hunting the Taliban. You don’t seem to be able to make this disctiction.

    Honest question – are you even a New Zealander or (more importantly) aware of New Zealand’s role in Afghanistan?

    …you both are advocating that our soldier’s are sent under-equipped into a war zone and are attempting to defend the government’s policy simply because a National MP brought it up instead of examining it on it’s merits of saving our troops lives.

    I’ll go with the Army, thanks. You say it’s the Government’s policy, but you are wrong – it is the Army’s. Try to anchor your assertions in fact… Why you think you can decide better than the army which armour beats the hell out of me, but reinforces my previous post.

    You might realise that your concept of Army operations is limited to more armour=better. A touch simplistic, don’t you think?

  35. Occasional Observer 35

    Look, it’s a legitimate question as to whether New Zealand should better armour its troops in Bamiyan, despite the Standard’s claim that Mapp is not entitled to an opinion, is not qualified to have one, has no military experience, and should STFU.

    Other countries deployed in Afghanistan do take different approaches. It’s an absolute nonsense to claim that Afghanistan is about the “hearts and minds”. Different situations apply in different provinces in Afghanistan.

    It is instructive to look at what other countries deployed to Afghanistan are using. It’s fair to say, that a mix of approaches is used. There is domestic criticism in countries that do not armour their troops. Mapp’s comments are no different. http://www.sfu.ca/casr/ft-isaf-armour1.htm

    Mapp makes a legitimate point, despite Steve Pierson’s ignorant attempts to shout him down.

  36. Jay 36

    “The main problem in Afghanistan is IEDs or Independent Explosive Devices.”

    As I said before, do some basic research before arguing the point. The ‘I’ stands for ‘improvised’ not independent. It can also stand for ‘ignorant’.

    “These are not indiscriminant, as mines are. You’re less likely to be a target for these if you’re in the PRT than if you’re part of the force charging through the mountains hunting the Taliban.”

    Really? Please provide a link to back up this assertion. Tell us all with your vast military experience about how one would be less likely to be killed by a IED than a mine.

    As for how indiscriminent they are it depends upon the trigger mechanism used such as cell phone detonation which is something you fail to distinguish or more likely don’t actually know since you’re appear to be making this up.

    “Honest question – are you even a New Zealander”

    I see Peter Brown’s anti-foreigner xenophobia has spread to labour supporters. And to answer your question yes I am. But the question does bring up an interesting point about yourself, that you’re more concerned about the person who asks the question than the issue itself which is why you attack Mapp as a person instead of acknowledging that there may be an issue here.

  37. Steve Pierson 37

    OO. Stop misrepresenting what I said. I was wrong on Mapp’s military experience, that is corrected. I am not saying Mapp should not voice opinions on military matters – I’m saying he is engaging in political point scoring. he knows it is the Army not the Govt who decides whether LAVs are needed in an operaiton or not, but he is trying to attack the govt.

  38. Matthew Pilott 38

    OO, the people with military experience I’d be listening to are those in the army who are over there. Mapp is second-guessing our army leaders who are over there and taking the actual risks, and for political points (i.e. by blaming the government for it), which is a disgrace.

  39. Occasional Observer 39


    It isn’t political point-scoring. Every NATO country involved in Afghanistan legitimately questions the level of protection offered to their soldiers. Many NATO countries have seen high levels of domestic criticism, which has led to participating countries increasing the armour made available to soldiers. That isn’t political point-scoring. It is legitimate questioning.

    The Government is ultimately responsible. Cabinet authorised the deployment to Afghanistan. Government takes responsibility whenever a soldier is injured or killed. Simply saying that they are operational decisions for which the Army is solely responsible, and should therefore not be questioned, is absurd.

    Matthew, you don’t have any military expertise. Wayne Mapp wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t asking tough questions: questions which every other country participating in Afghanistan is asking about the equipment of their troops.

  40. Matthew Pilott 40

    Jay, IED’s do not use pressure triggers, they need to be detonated manually. There are various methods but to be effective they must be detonated pretty close to the target, hence not being indiscriminate. I can’t really make it much more simple for you.

    The reason I asked if you were a New Zelaander or knew what our army was doing in Afghanistan was because you seemed to think we were in Kabul, based upon your links, and that you failed to differentiate between the types of duty undertaken by NZ Forces in Afghanistan. No offence intended, although perhaps I should have kept my peace, you get worked up about irrelevancies (Peter Brown?!?) pretty easily.

    WRT us being less targeted due to our role, it’s pretty common knowledge that peacekeepers are less targeted than active forces. This is only more so for a reconstruction team. If I need to provide evidence to you about something this basic then I can’t imagine where it would stop, and think I’ll choose not to start – you can’t be spoon fed all your life. If you want to better inform yourself, you could start looking at casualty rates of New Zealanders (reconstruction) vs the US forces over there.

    Now, tell me where I attacked Mapp as a person, as opposed to the handling of the issue? I acknowledge the issue, and defer to the Army’s operational experience. You still haven’t told me upon which basis you choose to second guess them. I wonder if you’ll skirt the main point for teh third straight time, it’s going to look pretty ridiculous if you do..

    You still havent addressed the point that it is the Army’s decision and not the Government’s. I take this as acceptance that your original point, and the basis for your entire contibutions here (“It’s shameful that the standard feels the need to politicize what is a genuine concern for the inadequate equipping of army personel in a warzone. “) is based on nonsense.

  41. Steve Pierson 41

    OO. Can we at least agree that Mapp is wrong on the substance? LAVs are not needed in Afghanistan, the Army says so. There has been one IED attack in nearly 6 years and it resulted in only minor damage. LAVs are not justified because depolying them would mean incurring increased wear and tear on military equipment and it would have a negative effect on relations with the local afghanis, and the only gain would be more armour that isn’t needed.

    Mapp got it wrong and charging in blaming the government for not doing something that they ought not do (and is anyway an operational matter) is sheer stupidity.

  42. Occasional Observer 42

    No, Steve. This is your problem.

    Wayne Mapp is not wrong on the substance. Apart from your claim that he has no military experience, which you’ve since retracted, he never said that LAVs should be deployed in Afghanistan. Again, you’ve chosen to circumvent basic levels of reading comprehension, to score a cheap political point. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0804/S00019.htm

    Let’s read this carefully. What Mapp said was that the situation in various parts of Afghanistan has been heating up, and there is evidence that tensions are rising in the Bamiyan province. He said New Zealand should consider deploying its LAVs to the area. He didn’t say that they should do so, or that they would make a major difference. He simply pointed out that the LAVs are available, many have simply been sitting in storage, and that if they can make a difference to the safety of troops, they should be considered.

    Nowhere in that press release–which you were too dishonest to link to, Steve–does it say that Mapp recommends the Army pursue that option.

    There has been domestic criticism in every NATO-participating country about providing appropriate levels of armour to troops in Afghanistan. Many countries have increased the level of armour to troops. It’s perfectly appropriate to question whether the increasing tensions do warrant more armour to New Zealand troops.

    Mapp never went “charging in blaming the government for not doing something they ought not to do”. You’re deliberately lying, Steve. You can’t back that up with facts. Mapp did nothing of the sort.

    As I’ve said earlier in this thread, Steve, try doing your homework first if you want to establish any credibility in your argument.

  43. Matthew Pilott 43

    No, OO, he said Labour should consider sending the LAV’s over, not New Zealand – he is unnecessarily politicising it, as Steve pointed out.

    Do you think the army would get them over there if they thought they needed them? Do you think they’ve not once, in the years they’ve been there, considered bringing them over?

  44. Jay 44

    “Jay, IED’s do not use pressure triggers, they need to be detonated manually”

    Do you know what improvised means. It means that they can be made from a variety of material such as old artillery shells and detonated through a variety of ways depending on the technology on hand.

    “You still havent addressed the point that it is the Army’s decision and not the Government’s. I take this as acceptance that your original point, and the basis for your entire contibutions here”

    Who sets the budgets and approves funding? Who decides procurement policy? Not hard to guess is it.

    This issue is not about second guessing anyone, it’s about legitimate questioning of whether our troops are properly protected. I know it election year and you’re all tetchy about being being in the polls but not all debate should be construed as being anti-labour which you seem be seeing it as.

    By the way it’s getting tiresome proving you wrong. Take your own advice and read up a little. It doesn’t take much effort.

    “it’s pretty common knowledge that peacekeepers are less targeted than active forces.”


    Common knowledge eh?

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