Trainers will need to be students not teachers – version 2

The Editor,  The Sunday Star-Times,  Auckland

22 June, 2015

Dear Editor:

The article by Penfold and Bingham (14 June) relates to the issues surrounding publication of a book by Major Craig Wilson giving his story of the Battle of Baghak (Afghanistan, 2012), the Defence Force’s restrictions of its publication, and the 3D Investigates program about it.   Similar issues, including overtly political ones, could emerge from the deployment of NZ Defence Force trainers into Iraq. 

The training unit is running into a situation where government troops have not stood up to ISIS in some cases.  But is it accurate to use the word ‘coward’ in those cases?  Those military difficulties arise out of the political and cultural situation in Iraq.  No amount of ‘training’ of troops is going to overcome that.

In fact it is unreal to expect the NZ contingent to be the teacher.  It should be there as students.   They may be capable of taking an honest look around while there and come back with greater insight.  But would they be allowed to share it?  The decision to send them was political, so NZ can be part of the ‘club’, not to help the Iraqis progress with self determination.


Richard Keller

published weekend of 28 June


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