NZDF clears SAS on Afghanistan-patrol allegations

The New Zealand Defence Force is today responding to allegations made by Stuff about a long range reconnaissance patrol carried out by the NZSAS in Afghanistan in 2004.

FILE PHOTO (unrelated): New Zealand Army soldiers rappel from a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter during Exercise Southern Katipo 2015. NZDF photo.

The allegations were made in a documentary by Stuff called The Valley, broadcast in September 2017. The journalists accused NZSAS forces of committing offences during the patrol, named Op Quested 1.

This media advisory contains a summary of the allegations and the conclusions of a legal review carried out by the New Zealand Defence Force. Further details are in the questions and answers attached. The Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short is available for interview.

In summary the documentary alleged:

  • That the NZSAS provoked a contact by aggressive interaction with villagers.
  • That members of the NZSAS mistreated dead bodies.
  • That members of the NZSAS damaged civilian property.
  • That members of the NZSAS unreasonably detained and mistreated civilians.


During the course of the examination of the allegations and the events that took place two further matters were raised:

  • A member of the NZSAS patrol raised concerns about the conduct of a fellow member of the patrol and their treatment of a civilian detainee;
  • Additionally the circumstances around the death of an Afghan male – not mentioned in The Valley – have been examined and details are today being released.

A review by Defence Legal Services has found:

  • That there is no information to suggest that the NZSAS deliberately provoked the firefight;
  • There is no information to suggest the NZSAS mistreated dead bodies;
  • There is insufficient information to conclude if property was damaged;

During the inquiry into the allegation that members of the patrol mistreated civilians, it was found that the conduct of one individual, whom we are not naming, fell below the standard the NZDF would expect of a professional soldier but the allegation did not reach the evidential threshold required to proceed with a criminal prosecution.

Regarding the death of an Afghan male, not reported by Stuff, the legal review found that he was killed by shrapnel from a Coalition aircraft. There is no information to suggest he was deliberately targeted nor that, as a casualty, he was treated in any way other than in accordance with New Zealand’s international obligations.


Next steps for the NZDF

Despite the findings of the review, in order to ensure best practice, on Monday the Chief of Defence Force ordered:

  • A review of NZDF training to ensure the ongoing best practice in the treatment of civilians, detainees, and casualty management
  • Additional training on obligations to report issues in a timely manner;
  • That a specific policy covering incidental civilian casualties be developed.

It should be noted that this patrol was the one during which Corporal Willy Apiata was awarded his VC. None of the allegations relate to him.





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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

6 thoughts on “NZDF clears SAS on Afghanistan-patrol allegations

  • 11/03/2019 at 3:28 am

    As a retired vet who has smelt and tasted a little smoke and cordite, I am always saddened by slack arse civilians who try and second guess post OP debrief. Aggression – damage to property – mistreating bodies and civilians. Crikey christ on a crutch – first off, is not aggression and decisive action the hall marks and rasion d’etre of special forces? As for the rest of the allegations, if you want to avoid collateral damage in a bloody WAR zone – don’t fight the bloody war to start with. Pretty simple shit when you think about it. That’s the problem right there journalists don’t think they just interpret their slanted views to reflect what will sell advertising and get their name in lights. Fuck them all and the flea infested camels they rode in on.

  • 10/03/2019 at 5:07 pm

    I have never liked journalists current one excluded. One reason why is my father was SASR and did 2 tours of Vietnam and I was old enough to see how journalists treated Veterans at that time. Also in 1985 / 86 I was an apprentice chef at Tangalooma Island Resort Moreton is and a qualified scuba diver anyway an navy ship docked at our little wharf to use the resorts Doctor and to call in a medivac as a navy diver had had his leg taken off by what I heard was a boat propeller. As the doc did the work to keep the diver alive while waiting for the chopper to come. Channel 2 7 and ten arrived in their choppers flying very low sending sand everywhere making it very hard to treat the diver and when life flight arrived the news choppers didn’t get out of the way immediately they took their sweet time just so they could get that great shot of a human suffering! I never heard wether that sailor survived or not . We were told by the hospital in Brisbane that if the leg could be found intact within a certain time that they might save it I know a lot of people went out looking for some hours. I’ve met other news people over the years in my military years and never have trusted them they never seem to report what they see but rather they give a account of whatever their bias wants them to see or believe.

  • 10/03/2019 at 3:48 pm

    Why don’t the soldiers concerned sue the journalist who made up this crap

  • 10/03/2019 at 3:36 pm

    Journalists…….wouldn’t piss on them, especially the lefty on the public purse kind.

    • 10/03/2019 at 3:37 pm

      Current company excluded, I hope? 😉

      • 11/03/2019 at 7:24 am

        If the wildlife was happy with anybody that wearing a shirt like you in NZ waters must be OK.


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