International Deployment Capability

Pacific Operations > International Deployment Capability

Strategic Transport

Primary Missions M1-2 (Pacific Security and International Peacekeeping) and C2 (Pacific Emergency) requires the strategic movement of personnel and cargo beyond New Zealand. However Primary Mission C1 (Civil emergency) and C3 (Medical Emergency) may also require specialised transport capability if New Zealand ports and airports are rendered inoperative by disaster .

Traditionally the New Zealand armed forces have relied on commercial shipping for this task. There is some wisdom in this. Chartering a ship or aircraft reduces ownership costs considerably meaning that the cost is only incurred when it is needed. This, of course, requires that the response can wait for a charter aircraft or ship to be found, the terms negotiated and the vessel or aircraft dispatched to New Zealand. In some cases by the time this is done the need is passed and we may as well not have bothered.

Its worth reviewing this table of strategic distances to remind ourselves how far away we are from the places we may want to send people or material.

Destination

Distance from Auckland

Singapore

4,600nM

8,500km

Hawaii (USA)

3811nM

7,000km

Bali, Indonesia

3800nM

6,800km

Darwin, Australia

2800nM

5,150km

Port Moresby,PNG

2222nM

4,000km

Honiara, Solomon Islands

1833nM

3,400km

Raratonga Cook Islands (NZ)

1,600nM

3,000km

Apia, Samoa

1,565nM

2,900km

Nuie

1,345nM

2,500km

Brisbane Australia

1,240nM

2,291km

Vanuatu Vila

1,200nM

2,200km

Sydney, Australia

1,160nM

2,150km

Suva, Fiji

1,150nM

2,100km

Noumea,New Calidonia

979nM

1,800km

Norfolk Island / Chathams

580nM

1,100km

From this table it should be quite obvious that New Zealand is a very long way from anywhere else.

Analysis of New Zealand's track record, particularly to Primary Mission C3 indicate that it has been a standard response to dispatch a C-130 Hercules with a medical team. This needs to be examined as it is highly likely that dispatching a medium cargo aircraft to carry a medical team is not necessarily the best use of resources.

Primary Mission M1 implies the need to defend New Zealand and our allies. This should not necessarily be interpreted solely as an investment in weaponry. As it happens our allies are well armed. Australia and Singapore between them have over a dozen modern frigates, fast attack ships, supersonic jets etc. The handful of tactical forces New Zealand could muster may create more command and control hassles than they solve.

However this is not to say New Zealand cannot assist her allies by providing logistic support - and no commander can have too much strategic transport. As American Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest simplified it, the art of strategy is to be the one who "gets there fastest with the mostest". In all recent US deployments the one factor that has created more difficulties has been reliable air and sea transport. Located as New Zealand is, long range transport should be an obvious distinction of our forces. There are basically only two forms of strategic transport: ships and aircraft.