Firstly, I want to explain to all our RCB veterans and our supporters the long delay in reporting our activities. It was necessary for operational security reasons in preparing our latest submission to the Government and the new Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans Affairs, The Hon Andrew Gee.
RCBRG Submission with Ethicos Report
Our latest submission includes a report we commissioned from The Ethicos Group “a partnership of established specialists whose members have extensive high-level experience, in Australia and internationally, … specifically in the domains of professional ethics, integrity systems, codes of conduct, official misconduct, corruption, employment equity and ‘good governance’”.
The Report prepared by Howard Whitton after three months of investigation and data analysis, concluded that Rifle Company Butterworth’s operational deployment from 1970 to 1989 (for the purpose of protecting RAAF assets at Air Base Butterworth (ABB) during the Malaysian Counter Insurgency War) has been, and continues to be, wrongly classified as ‘peacetime service’ and is open to legal challenge on several grounds.
Our submission sent on 4th October 2021 and since acknowledged, requests Minister Gee to set aside previous decisions and determinations made by various Ministers relating to RCB operational deployment and to make a fresh decision according to law.
We are not able to provide you with the details of the Report pending the Minister’s decision.
New Zealand Government Decision – Approves Operational Service Medal for RCB Service
Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced today (3rd November 2021) that eligibility for the New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM) has been rightly extended to include a larger proportion of members of the New Zealand Armed Forces who served in Malaysia and Singapore.
“The award of this medal recognises the valuable contribution to the defence of South East Asia by veterans who served in Malaysia and Singapore, but were previously excluded as they were not required to deploy into combat areas, such as Borneo or Vietnam,” Peeni Henare said.
“I’m proud that around 4,500 veterans who served in South East Asia from February 1959 to January 1974 are now rightly able to be awarded a medal for their valiant service. I hope veterans and their whānau take this opportunity to have their service recognised in this way,” Peeni Henare said.
The review commissioned by the government and carried out by the New Zealand Defence Force, showed there was a need for a wider approach to medallic recognition for South East Asia than had been the practice in the past.
The 2021 review looked at the period between 1955 and 1989 and assessed that service between 1 February 1959 and 31 January 1974 should be qualifying service for the award of the New Zealand Operational Service Medal.
It was a unique period in New Zealand’s military history including; forward deployment and deterrence; operational readiness as part of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation plans for responding to the threat of communist expansion into South East Asia; an ongoing communist terrorist insurgency in Malaysia; the Cold War; a fraught relationship with Indonesia which resulted in conflict; and war in Vietnam.
It concluded that together during that period that these events justified the award of medallic recognition but not a campaign medal. Campaign medals (and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal) have already been awarded for related operational service including the Malayan Emergency, Thai-Malay border, Confrontation with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“An eligible veteran must have been posted or attached for seven or more days with the Far East Strategic Reserve, the Australia New Zealand United Kingdom Force or associated units during these dates,” Peeni Henare said.
“I implore all those who meet the new criteria to apply for the formal recognition that they and their whanau rightly deserve. The dedication and commitment both individuals and whanau make in order to keep our country and region safe cannot be overstated, and I wish to thank every one of the Defence force whanau for their service,” Peeni Henare said
For those eligible under the revised settings Veterans and next-of-kin of deceased veterans need to apply to receive the NZOSM.
The application form is on the New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives and Medals website: www.nzdf.mil.nz/pam
About 7,000 veterans of South East Asia combat theatres are already eligible for the NZOSM. Any unclaimed medals can still be issued.
Our Comments on this NZ Decision
This result came directly from the RCB Review Group’s support to our NZ RCB counterparts by: Russell Linwood with his guidance to challenging the accuracy of the 2013 Cooke Report to the NZ Government and providing access to our massive supply of intelligence and other data from the RCBRG’s master document database; by Ray Fulcher’s Appeals Tribunal case; and by Ken Marsh’s paper “Military and Political Risk in South-East Asia 1971-1989 Australia’s Commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the Integrated Air Defence System”.
This NZ decision and the evidence in the Whitton Report bolsters the RCBRG’s submission to Minister Gee.
We look forward to the Minister’s decision.