31 Oct 2012

PM says SAS not involved in combat in Afghanistan

5:01 pm on 31 October 2012

Prime Minister John Key says there has been no request to change the SAS troops' mandate in Afghanistan to get involved in raids against insurgents.

It has been claimed SAS soldiers will be directly involved in retaliation against those who killed five New Zealand soldiers in Bamyan province in August this year.

Freelance reporter Jon Stephenson says the elite soldiers will help carry out strikes against insurgents.

However, Mr Key said on Wednesday that the five to six SAS members in Afghanistan only have a mandate for planning and logistics support to assist American or British special forces that could carry out operations on New Zealand's behalf.

He flatly denied that the SAS are involved in combat activities.

The Prime Minister says if the Chief of Defence wanted to put SAS soldiers into a combat role, he would have to seek a new mandate from the Government - and none has been sought.

Mr Key says he can't be held to account if anyone is operating outside of the rules of engagement - but there is no evidence they have and he does not believe that they have.

Lance-Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer were killed in an ambush. Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance-Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris were killed by a bomb in August.