Defence Force chief Tim Keating standing down

The chief of the Defence Force has announced his resignation, but denies it's due to allegations about Operation Burnham.

Lieutenant General Tim Keating says he is standing down after four years in the role. His term will be completed at the end of June.

National's Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell says he was surprised to hear the news.

"He was a consummate professional, always with the Defence Force personal at the forefront of everything that he was doing," Mr Mitchell says.

In an email to staff, Lt Gen Keating says it is not because of Operation Burnham in 2010. This became the subject of the book Hit and Run, which alleges civilians died during an SAS operation in Afghanistan.

Mr Mitchell says he is proud of the way Operation Burnham was handled.

"Certainly a minister I made sure I had a full range of briefings," he says.

"I saw the tapes that were available so that I was fully satisfied that our Defence Forces' soldiers had acted in the most professional and proper way."

Current Defence Minister Ron Mark says the State Services Commissioner has begun the recruitment process for a successor.

Newshub.