Defence Force to allow conscientious objectors

New Zealand troops will be allowed to “opt out” of going to Iraq.

Five days after Prime Minister John Key announced 143 personnel would be sent to the Middle East to train Iraqi forces in the war on Islamic State fighters, the Defence Force has confirmed soldiers will be given the chance to withdraw from the controversial deployment.

The Defence Force says it is part of being a “good employer”.

In a statement to the Herald on Sunday, a Defence Force spokesman said military personnel could indicate “any matters” they believed made them unsuitable for the mission, including personal or family circumstances.

Consideration would also be given to any troops who said they didn’t want to go to Iraq on ethical grounds.

“The same consideration would be given as that applied to any other issue that may impact on their ability to deploy,” the spokesman said.

“Personnel may at times indicate personal or other circumstances that could impact on their ability to deploy. As has been the case with most employers, NZDF has become increasingly aware of the effect of individual personal circumstances on the performance and overall wellbeing of its people.”

I have no problem with not sending troops that don’t have their head in the game. ?But if they want to back out on ethical grounds, then they should not be employed by the NZDF.

You don’t get to pick and choose what your battles are when you are employed by the NZDF. ?If they have a job that needs doing, and you’re employed to do it, then if you’re capable, you’re going. ?I’ll allow for the fact that you may not want to – in that case – resign.

The concept of NZDF “employees” picking and choosing what they want to do is absurd. ?The next completely logical step is to start asking defence force employees if they could possibly object to being involved in particular missions.

Allow them to quit. ?But if they’re in, they bloody well should do what they’re ordered to do.

How would you like to be working next to someone when the bullets start flying who suddenly decides that this particular part of the job they don’t actually want to be involved in, and they’re going to leave you to do it by yourself?



– Matthew Theunissen, Herald on Sunday