The New Zealand Defence Force’s decision to caution a New Zealand Army captain for writing a letter of support for an Afghan that served with him reflects poorly on that organisation.
Journalist Jon Stephenson broke the story of an Afghan interpreter that had worked with the New Zealand Defence Force and applied to come to New Zealand. A few months ago this man, known as Hamid, was kidnapped by the Taliban, beaten and only narrowly escaped with his life. Hamid application to come to New Zealand was supported by the Army captain who now has a disciplinary reprimand on his service record.
The captain’s received a reprimand for using Defence Force letterhead.
One can’t help surmising that the captain’s real crime is that his support for Hamid has embarrassed both the Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and the Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman.
According to journalist Selwyn Manning immediately after Stephenson’s story broke National spin doctors contacted Radio New Zealand complaining that Jon Stephenson was incorrect, that Hamid was not officially an interpreter, attempting to create some distance due to Hamid being a ‘contractor’ rather than on the official payroll.
The army captain’s letter contradicted this attempt to discredit Stephenson.
Instead of attacking Stephenson, Ministers Woodhouse and Coleman and their staff should be put a little more effort into making certain we keep our word to those that assisted our Forces.