A leaked American study into military actions in Afghanistan reveals New Zealand is now plugged into the world's most secret intranet, allowing access to the Pentagon's battle plans.
"Secret Internet Protocol Router Network", or SIPRNET, is a sophisticated alternative to the internet, allowing New Zealand frigate control rooms and armoured vehicles access to material seen on generals' desks in Washington.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp refused to comment on the link. "We don't discuss security matters," he said through a spokesman.
A spokeswoman for the United States embassy in Wellington said it would not comment on security or intelligence matters. "What I can say is that the US considers New Zealand a partner, a team-mate and an extremely close friend.
"Bilateral communication is an obvious part of such a friendship but the specific mechanisms we use for government-to-government communication are not something we discuss publicly."
New Zealand's place in the network has been revealed by whistleblower Wikileaks, which published a Rand Corporation study into intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wikileaks says the study into counter-insurgency is a notable news and policy source for the wealth of revealing interview quotes it contains.
Rand says that, in Iraq and Afghanistan, coalition forces often did not have access to US intelligence and at times this put British soldiers at "mortal risk".
As a result the US National Security Agency and Defence Department opened SIPRNET "to a small pool of trusted allies", including Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand...
Update, October 2010
In non-redacted pages from Anthony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart, as posted by Steven Aftergood...
Secrecy News: Operation Dark Heart - The Aftermath
We find some items which may be pertinent to the above on pages 55 & 56...
"New Zealand Defence Force troops were providing intelligence, as well as combat support, as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in the country."
"For Dave to offer to distribute raw data outside the NSA system, even though it would remain within the top secret security network, was also a radical move. Normally, the Fort got the raw, unanalyzed intercepts first and then they gave people like Dave what they thought he needed in the form of finished or near finished reports, but Dave had cut a deal with them. He was getting everything so that his hybrid team of New Zealand and U.S. SIGINT specialists could parse it and review it to establish their own intel. In promising me access to their intercepts, Dave was stepping way, way, way out on a limb."