Crying shame for the New Zealand army

LIFE has not been easy for New Zealand's tiny army, navy and air force since former prime minister David Lange's anti-nuclear policy provoked the United States into withdrawing all military co-operation. After nearly 40 years of rubbing shoulders with the superpower under the Anzus alliance, the snub left the armed forces feeling isolated.

The inheritors of a fighting tradition that distinguished itself on the slopes of Gallipoli, against German paratroopers in Crete, and in the front ranks at El Alamein are virtually confined to civil defence tasks at home. Yesterday, for instance, the air force was dropping hay to snow-bound sheep on mountain tops.

Embarrassing then for the army to be facing the case of the crying major. Newspapers last week were full of the sad story of a man who cracked when posted to the United Nations force in Angola. A court martial was told that after arriving in Luanda, Major Anthony Queree, 38, a 20-year army veteran, refused to be assigned to a remote, abandoned village which a reconnaissance report said was surrounded by minefields, had no water or food, no habitable buildings and an unusable air strip.

Said to be suffering agoraphobia and upset that he had been posted overseas without his wife, Major Queree broke down in tears and insisted on being sent home. The Major was charged with an act likely to prejudice service discipline or bring discredit on the army by refusing an order. He was acquitted on the grounds that he should not have been sent to Angola in the first place.

The case came as military chiefs anxiously awaited the results of an inquiry into their behaviour during a conflict with Mr Lange at the time of the May 1987 military coup in Fiji. It was revealed recently that after an Air New Zealand aircraft had been hijacked at Fiji's Nadi airport, Mr Lange had ordered an air force plane 'with sufficient military personnel aboard to act as required to protect New Zealand's interests', be dispatched immediately. The order was cancelled an hour before take-off after the lone hijacker was overpowered by a crew member. But it was clear that defence chiefs, fearing a clash with the Fijian forces who had taken over the country, had stalled.

The Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, has ordered an investigation into procedures for committing New Zealand troops to action overseas. But the military's woes don't end there. Defence spending was cut again in this month's budget. The air force is flying 25-year-old transport planes with little hope of getting new ones. And although the navy is to get two new frigates, the Defence Minister, Warren Cooper, recently speculated that it may not be given the additional two ships it says it will need at the turn of the century.

The biggest embarrassment this year, however, has probably been the failure of the army's top snipers to kill a wild dog - which has slaughtered thousands of sheep on a South Island mountain farm - after they were ordered in to save the farmer from bankruptcy. The snipers, using hi-tech night-scopes, spent months tracking the dog. They hid in sheep pens for several days and wrapped wool around their boots to hide their smell. But the dog outwitted them, and the army has now been pulled out.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week