Defence New Zealand An alternate view of New Zealand's defence and civil defence organisation

                     NB This study was first published five years ago and has become outdated
                     The author intends to publish a replacement in the very near future.

Welcome to Peter King's alternate NZ Defence Force Page

Many New Zealanders believe that the amount of money our Government spends on defence is wasted. As a series of very remote islands New Zealand has no strategic enemies and is under no direct threat from military attack.

New Zealand is however under threat from a number of other risks. These include: earthquake and tsunami; agricultural or medical pandemic; over-fishing and infringements on sovereignty. While New Zealand does not have a militaristic outlook New Zealanders are very sensitive to potential political violence in the Pacific Islands (because so many New Zealanders hail from there). As such New Zealand has played a military role in stabilising the Solomon's and Bougainville.  New Zealanders are also concerned about the welfare of those on the sea around our country but also small islands that are still attached to New Zealand (eg the Tokelaus and Rarotonga). New Zealanders also care deeply about the environment not only around New Zealand but also on the Ross Dependency and within our EEZ - the 4th largest in the world.

It is hard for many New Zealanders to square these concerns with the military we have. However as most New Zealanders have very little idea of the alternatives to the expenditure already made they are left simply with an uneasy sense that although they think things might be done differently they do not know how. The object of this site is to demonstrate precisely how things could have been done differently if New Zealand's military were a) disposed to be concerned about those other risks and b) were legislated to deal with those other risks.

The object of this study is to carry out the following thought experiment:

  1. Construct a methodology for determining an appropriate defence expenditure level.
  2. Evaluate the existing force against the sovereign requirements
  3. Construct a counterfactual hypothetetical force  
  4. Compare both forces against the requirements
  5. Draw conclusions as to the suitability of the current force and the capability of the existing structure to deliver a force able to meet these requirements.

The fundamental philosophical outlook of this study is there is no distinction between military, civilian, terrorist, geophysical and biological threats to New Zealand's economy. All catastrophes that threaten New Zealand's well-being are deemed to be the province of Vote Defence. This Study contends the preoccupation in NZDF doctrine with "The Enemy" is misplaced. In many situations there won't be one. This is because no other agency is paid for by Government to deal with extraordinary situations impinging on public safety. Ultimately every Government can only have recourse to its military in times of dire need.

This study evaluates the need for a defence force in terms of the risks faced by New Zealanders posed by natural and political hazards. It quantifies the total risk, evaluates a reasonable budget for a response force; and specifies the response force that might best meet these objectives.

In the end, of course, the reasons such decisions have not been made is politics. Obviously this review has not had to contend with this debilitating reality. However in the end the point this review is making is to demonstrate the high cost the taxpayers of New Zealand are paying for this failing.

Notes on the second edition

This is a revised edition of an earlier private investigation into the alternatives for New Zealand's defence.

The previous edition was, for reasons I do not understand, not able to be navigated by Firefox or Mozilla users but was by Internet Explorer and Opera users. This version has been rewritten using Google's Page Creator in order to guarantee accessibility and speed redevelopment.

The first version contained a number of errors based on estimates of potential Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses due to non-military disasters. These have now been replaced with NZ Government estimates wherever these are available. This has led to changes to the basic equations underlying this study.

I have also taken advantage of these changes and new information to alter a few recommendations. 

In particular I have completely revised:

1. The proposal relating to surface vessels in line with my own arguments. Where previously I had argued the benefit of multiple low cost ships cooperating to provide interoperable functionality at net reduced cost and greater operational flexibility, for some unfathonable reason I ended up recommending a single vessel design for all purposes. This has now been changed in line with my own argument. Also delays in some systems being introduced and announcements of others have also led to some minor revisions.

2. The recommendations on infantry warfare systems. In the previous version I had incomplete information on the range of technology offered by Singapore Kinetics, and misaligned my recommendation for a greater number of special forces troops with equipment better suited to a force based on part-timers. That error has been corrected.

3. In the previous version I based recommendations on the anticipated performance of a number of systems by the 2010 start year. These include the Gibbs Technologies amphibious vehicles and the Bell Tiltrotor Ba/HV609. Since the first edition Gibbs has signed a development contract with Lockheed Martin to develop an interesting new range of military amphibious vehicles, while Bell has delayed the HV609 FAA certification date from 2007 to 2010.  I have therefore mentioned both systems but not recommended them until they are further refined.

Finally, in discussion groups (such as Defencetalk) the previous version of this study was criticised heavily by what I will term the "hairy chested "military set. These people objected to the notion of a non-military person daring to have an opinion about military matters. To my mind this preoccupation with conditions "on the battlefield" is nothing more than excuse. While it is accepted that every Government owes its troops the best protection it can provide (including not putting them in harms way without good cause in the first place) this study takes the view that military violence is "politics with guns". Military systems that place guns before politics are unsuccessful both militarily and by necessity politically.