26 Jul 2011

Afghanistan threat changed - defence chief

12:07 pm on 26 July 2011

The head of the Defence Force says New Zealand soldiers caught up in a fatal ambush in Afghanistan were not ready for such a complex attack because that type of training was not deemed a priority.

Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell was killed instantly by a roadside bomb last August in Bamyan province.

A Defence Force court of inquiry report, released on Monday, revealed shortcomings in training, though it found Lieutenant O'Donnell's death could not have been prevented.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, told Morning Report the assault on Lieutenant O'Donnell's convoy was more complicated than earlier attacks.

He says soldiers were trained for one style of operation, but the threat changed.

"For example, the need to call in air strikes - well that hadn't been a requirement before because there hadn't been enemy forces remaining on the ground to do that again."

General Jones says soldiers in Afghanistan are now better equipped and better trained.