Friday, March 10, 2006

If you were Phil Goff

According the the US Department of State......"New Zealand has three defense policy objectives--defend New Zealand against low-level threats, contribute to regional security, and play a part in global security efforts. New Zealand has considered its own national defense needs to be modest. Its defense budget generally has provided for selected upgrades in equipment, most of which have been devoted to the army. Shortly after winning the 1999 election, the Labour government canceled a lease-to-buy agreement with the U.S. for 28 F-16 aircraft. In 2001, the government contracted to purchase 105 LAVIIIs for U.S. $300 million, with initial delivery in 2003. In 2002, it announced planned upgrades of its P3 and C-130 Hercules aircraft, and committed to spend U.S. $250 million to purchase a multi-role vessel and several offshore patrol vessels, and U.S. $100 million for two used Boeing 757s as replacement VIP jet transport aircraft.

In May 2001, the government announced it was scrapping its combat air force. New Zealand states it maintains a "credible minimum force," although critics maintain that the country's defense forces have fallen below this standard.

With a claimed area of direct strategic concern that extends from Australia to Southeast Asia to the South Pacific, New Zealand necessarily places substantial reliance on its defense relationship with other countries, in particular Australia. However, acknowledging the need to improve its defense capabilities, the government in 2005 allocated an additional NZ$4.6 billion (U.S. $3.19 billion) over 10 years to modernize the country’s defense equipment and infrastructure and increase its military personnel. The funding represented a 51% increase in defense spending since the Labour government took office in 1999."

So the question is.......... If you were the Minister of Defence for NZ, and the $4.6 billion was available to you today to rebuild NZ's defence forces ( Air, Army, Navy )what would you do?


Rob Good said...

I would get a new fighter wing and try to get 20 F16 or F18's. I'd like to get F22's but I am sure that the budget would be quickly blown and the USA would vito the idea.

I would upgrade the Hurcules and order new replacements for the oldest of our planes. The orions would need to be replaced with newer more advanced models as well. The huey's would be replaced with new choppers, although nothing quite does the job like the Huey, so maybe they'd have to be thoroughly rebuilt.

I'd sell off the surplus LAV's and get a more durable and safe replacement.

There would be a massive recruitment drive to increase the size of our armed forces. The Army would be supplied with new equipment and training with US forces would be worked on.

New and durable boats would be ordered for the Navy. Maybe even preowned diesel US ships, although age would be a factor.

There would be a thorough modernisation of the forces and it would be suggested to the PM that joining ANZUS would be a prudent idea....

The technology available to the forces would be massivly increased....

The budget would be also increased as required.

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Unless we were to rekindle our allies relationship with the USA (instead of being very good friends) then much of what you propose would be unaffordable.

Assuming "ceteris paribus" or all things being constant, I believe that NZ should financially contribute to an ANZAC fighter/attack squadron based in Australia. That way, we will nominally have some political control over operational deployment for the squadron, but can be relieved of the fiscal burden of re-setting up a combat air wing. Of course, getting Australian buy-in to such a concept might prove tricky, but at least we could say that we are contributing to the mutual defence of NZ and Australia.

I would be more keen to see NZ beef up its deployment capabilities for scenarios involving the South Pacific, such as defending democratic governments from internal coups. For that, we would need RO/RO type ships which could carry armooured vehicles, helicopters like UH-60 Blackhawks to ferry troops (and maybe a heavier lifting type chopper for bigger utility work), as well as a focus on weapon systems that focus on area suppression such as beach heads.

It's all very well having offensive capability, but it is the ability to project force that actually matters. There's no point in having F16 aircraft unless you can also ferry its equipment, service people and supplies along with it when you deploy them. In that sense, maybe it's smarter to have ships that carry multiple helicopters, and choppers that have some attack ability like the Blackhawk or other utility choppers.

Andrew said...

Glad to hear that NZ has increased it's defence spending.

From a cost and political point of view, it probably better to have more SAS troops than expensive hardware.