SAS look set to return to Afghanistan

27 July 2009

According to the just released NZPA article, see copy below, John Key said today: "Whatever decision we make has to be made here in New Zealand in what is perceived to be in the best interests of New Zealand. That is who I answer to, that is the New Zealand public. They are the people entitled to that answer, nobody else."

That seems like a clear invitation for you, and / or your organisation, to send John Key your views about the possibility of the SAS being re-deployed to Afghanistan.His contact details are: (i) at parliament: Free post Parliament, Private Bag 18-888, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160; fax (04) 473 3689, email (ii) electorate office: PO Box 258, Kumeu 0841; fax (09) 412 2497, email or

A point to remember when you write, whether or not you agree with the concept of armed forces as 'peacekeepers', the SAS will certainly not be deployed in a peacekeeping role - they are, as it says on their web page, "the premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force" - The Ministry of Defence's media releases on the last two deployments to Afghanistan, described the SAS's activities as "the planning and execution of long-range reconnaissance and direct action missions inside Afghanistan. They will operate with other special forces from countries contributing to coalitions forces in Afghanistan."

SAS troops previously deployed to Afghanistan have been integrated with other Special Forces in the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force under US military command. Along with US Special Forces, "six foreign nations including New Zealand and Australia, also assigned some of their best "hunters and killers" to the group" which is headquartered near Bagram air base." - Clearly not deployments that could be regarded as peacekeeping by any stretch of the imagination ...

This message will be available online at /nzsas09.htm later today.

SAS look set to return to Afghanistan


27 July 2009

New Zealand's elite troops seem set to return to Afghanistan with Prime Minister John Key saying he is sympathetic to arguments that more troops are needed to stabilise the troubled country.

Mr Key told journalists today that decisions about deployment to Afghanistan would be made in the next few weeks.

United States ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), Ivo Daalder, has upped the pressure on the government to give further help.

About 140 army, navy and air force personnel are involved in New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team (PRT) operating in Bamiyan province. The team has been there since 2003 and is committed until September 2010 so far.

The Special Air Services (SAS) has been deployed there three times, the last in 2006.

The United States has repeatedly asked for an increased military presence.

My Key said the US position was clear.

"They want to see an increased contribution from Nato and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) countries of which New Zealand is one," Mr Key said.

"Whether we agree to do that is something our Cabinet needs to consider. My view is that I am somewhat sympathetic to the position on the basis that we see New Zealanders all around the world and they are in harms way."

Mr Key said an unstable Afghanistan would be a base for terrorist attacks around the world.

Dr Daalder said New Zealand should consider not just its relations with the US, but with other allies, particularly Australia.

"God forbid there be a threat directly to New Zealand. Wouldn't it then be good for a country like Holland or Canada or Slovakia or the US to be there `for you'?"

Mr Key said Dr Daalder's words should be taken "with a grain of salt" and if read the wrong way could be taken as putting pressure on New Zealand.

"We don't answer to America...Whatever decision we make has to be made here in New Zealand in what is perceived to be in the best interests of New Zealand. That is who I answer to, that is the New Zealand public. They are the people entitled to that answer, nobody else.

Arguments against sending more troops to Afghanistan included the cost, the danger posed to troops and whether it would achieve anything.

Mr Key agreed that wider diplomatic and strategic assets could be considered, but the primary consideration was whether an increased commitment would work.

Mr Key said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had indicated there would be an increased commitment to Afghanistan from his forces.

Asked if Australia would want New Zealand to do the same, Mr Key said "I think they always would, but we haven't had any further discussion."

The review was looking at the Bamiyan deployment, which Mr Key said he would prefer to see coming to an end.

"It soaks up a lot of resources, we have been there since 2003. We have done good work there, but at some point I would like to see the mission end and New Zealand able to regroup and use its resources in other places."

Mr Key said New Zealand wanted to see an exit strategy for Afghanistan and if there was an SAS tour of duty it would not be forever.

Any deployment would be based on the same rules of engagement as previously with the New Zealand commander having the final decision on engagement.

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The Waihopai spybase was dragged into the public spotlight in April 2008 when three Ploughshares peace activists penetrated its high security and deflated one of the two domes concealing its satellite dishes from the NZ public. The Anti-Bases Campaign was happy to support this non-violent direct action anti-war activity (which is yet to come to trial).

The public face of New Zealand’s role as an American ally is the NZ military presence in Afghanistan. But New Zealand’s most significant contribution to that, and other American wars, including the one in Iraq, is the Waihopai electronic intelligence gathering base, located in the Waihopai Valley, near Blenheim. It is controlled by the US, with New Zealand (including Parliament and the Prime Minister) having little or no idea what goes on there, let alone any control.

First announced in 1987, Waihopai is operated by New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in the interests of the foreign Powers grouped together in the super-secret UKUSA Agreement (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ). Its two satellite interception dishes intercept a huge volume of civilian telephone calls, telexes, faxes, e-mail and computer data communications. It spies on our Asia/Pacific neighbours, and forwards the material on to the major partners in the UKUSA Agreement, specifically the US National Security Agency (NSA). Its targets are international civilian communications involving New Zealanders, including the interception of international phone calls. Post- 9/11 the GCSB and Waihopai now spy further afield, to those regions where the US is waging wars. The codename for this – Echelon – has become notorious worldwide as the vast scope of its spying has become public. New Zealand is an integral, albeit junior part of a global spying network, a network that is ultimately accountable only to its own constituent agencies, not governments, not citizens.

Join us for the weekend of anti-war protest at this spybase. Come prepared for roughing it and camping out. We provide the food (we cater for vegetarians but vegans will have to bring their own). Bring sleeping bag, groundsheet, a tent, torch, water bottle, eating utensils, clothing for all weather, and $40 (or $20 unwaged) to cover costs. No open fires.

How to find our camp at Whites Bay: turn off SH1 at Tuamarina (9km north of Blenheim or 20 km south of Picton) and drive to Rarangi on the coast. Follow the steep Port Underwood Road over the hilltop before descending to the Whites Bay turnoff. There is a DoC public camp at the bay with basic facilities. ABC has to pay a fixed charge per head.

This will be the first Waihopai spybase protest since the Domebusters’ courageous 2008 citizens’ deflation action. Waihopai does not operate in the interests of New Zealanders or our neighbours. Basically it is a foreign spybase on NZ soil and directly involves us in America’s wars. Waihopai must be closed.

I want to take part in the Weekend of Protest




q I enclose $40 ($20 unwaged) per person registration to cover costs $______

q I want to make a donation to the Waihopai campaign $_______

q I can help with publicity in my area or network – Yes/No

q I want to join the Anti-Bases Campaign. Annual membership is $20 ______

( includes subscription to Peace Researcher)


Organised by the Anti-Bases Campaign, P.O. Box 2258, Christchurch.


Make all cheques to ABC

Waihopai Spybase's New Dome To "Protect Dish From Weather". Yeah, Right

“It (the Waihopai spybase’s new dome, being installed today) is inflated to two PSI (pounds per square inch) above atmospheric pressure and designed to protect the satellite (sic – dish) from the weather not hide the direction that the satellite (sic – dish) is pointed, as has been popularly believed”. Full story at

Yeah ,right.

In which case, why isn’t Telecom’s big satellite dish at Warkworth under a dome to “protect it from the weather”? Or the big satellite dishes on the roofs at TV1 and TV3 in Auckland? Or. Come to think, the hundreds of thousands of satellite TV dishes on buildings and houses up and down the country?

Of course the purpose of the domes at Waihopai is to conceal the direction in which the dishes are being pointed, in order to conceal which international civilian telecommunications satellites they are spying on. Actually the Stuff report quoted above has a Freudian slip in that it uses the word “satellite” instead of “dish”. That’s it in a nutshell – the domes are to conceal what satellites are being spied on.

Please turn the question around and ask the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau if they, and their masters in the US National Security Agency, don’t mind at all if anyone can see which way their spy dishes are pointing and can therefore work out who and what they’re spying on? Do a quick Google search of other spybases – Pine Gap in Australia or Menwith Hill in the UK, for example – and tell us how many uncovered dishes you can see as opposed to ones concealed by domes.

Please stop falling for the GCSB line that, uniquely, Waihopai’s satellite dishes have to be covered by domes to stop them getting wet or blowing away.

Waihopai Spybase Replaces Dome Destroyed By Peace Activists

Ploughshares Trial Moved To Wellington

The trail of the three activists who deflated one of the domes at the Waihopai Spybase will face trial on the 8th March in Wellington. The trial was moved to from Blenheim courts because of the high likelihood of a biased jury and because of the ongoing actions of the Anti Bases Campaign over the last decades.