Kim Hoskin is widely regarded as one of the fathers of not just the contemporary New Zealand Intelligence Corps (NZIC) but operational intelligence within the modern NZ Army. This personal account of his early life and operational service in Borneo and Vietnam provides a fascinating view of his evolution and development from young infantry officer into savvy intelligence officer and leader.
Born and raised in the post-war United Kingdom, Kim Hoskin joined the British Army as an infantry private. Coming across almost as a Victorian gentleman explorer, Hoskin had a deep curiosity about Asia and the world beyond Europe. Hoskin’s wanderlust and thirst for adventure was satisfied with a commission in the Gurkhas, a posting to Hong Kong and his first deployment to Borneo during Confrontation
When this book first arrived on my desk, I assumed the publisher had sent me two copies, so large was the box it came in. At 600+ pages, my first thought was that Kim needed to have engaged a good editor and I was worried that it would be a story that could have been told in half the number of pages. But, and this is significant, Hosking writes in such a casual and engaging way that before you know it, you are deep in the Borneo jungle and deep into the fascinating story of how his passion and interest for intelligence was awakened and grew from his first tentative entry into the jungle until he was planning and leading operations against the Indonesians.
Following an unconventional period working with local forces in Borneo, Hoskin subsequently joined the RNZIR and deployed to Vietnam as IO with one of the ANZAC Battalions. Vietnam was a very different operational environment to Borneo and it was here that Hoskin developed and honed his craft at the Battalion level. Much of what he describes as SOPs for operational intelligence formed the bulk of what I was taught as a young NZIC trainee in the early 1990s.
My NZIC background though isn’t the sole reason I enjoyed this memoir. Hoskin’s narrative style is engaging and the book is a fascinating insight into the very different ways two conflicts were waged, one mans unconventional military career and the evolution of operational intelligence in the New Zealand Army in the cold war era. In Plain View is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in the development of operational intelligence in the NZ Army and anyone looking for a well told story of post war soldiering with plenty of the unconventional or different about it.
Jeremy Seed ED, MIR, BA(Hons), APR Comms Guy, NZ RSA