Defence Minister Ron Mark has asked for a briefing on the issues raised in the controversial book Hit & Run, which alleged improper behaviour by the SAS in Afghanistan.

But Mark added that he did not know when that briefing would be, saying it will happen "as my time is available".

Hit & Run, written by journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, claims six civilians were killed and 15 were injured in a 2010 raid by the NZSAS in Baghlan province.

The Defence Force rejected allegations of wrongdoing, and the then-Prime Minister Bill English said an inquiry was not needed.


Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens called for an inquiry, and yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would ask questions of the Defence Force.

"We shared the view that we certainly needed to look into that further. We shared a view that Defence didn't share what was required at the time. And now we are in the position to work more closely with Defence, we will be doing that."

This afternoon, Mark said he had asked the Defence Force for a briefing.

"I expressed some views back then, but in this role now, it's my job to have a full briefing to satisfy myself, and then we will take a position and you will know.

"I don't think we said there should be a full public inquiry, ever. l think I've always said that we have utmost confidence in the culture and professionalism in our Defence Force personnel that we deploy internationally."

Mark said he had total confidence in the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

English decided not to hold an inquiry after viewing some of the available footage from the 2010 SAS raid, dubbed Operation Burnham.

Asked if he would see the video footage, Mark said he would look at any information that he wanted to.


National's Defence spokesman Mark Mitchell said the minister needed to stand up for the Defence Force.

"Yesterday, the Prime Minister accused the Defence Force of withholding information from the Government in relation to an operation in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister's comments undermine the credibility and integrity of the Defence Force.

"Mr Mark holds strong beliefs in the integrity of our Defence Force and is forging a reputation for standing up for our soldiers and this will be an important test for him."

Last week Mark, who is also NZ First deputy leader, said civilians that scrutinised the military didn't realise the pressure soldiers were under.

"For the private soldier with a rifle on the ground at that moment, at that time, given the rules of engagement, given the political focus, given the focus of the media both national and international - and some of it we have seen recently - I don't recall any conflict that we have ever deployed to as a nation where the actions taken by a lance corporal on the ground, actions taken in a nanosecond based on what that individual is confronted with ... could be pulled apart and dissected over the next two months, two years, 10 years," Mark, a former soldier, said.

"Where other people who have never worn the uniform ... make judgment upon that individual's decision at that point in time."