This site is not small and its argument is long and sustained. This summary is no substitute for reading the site and its hyperlinked evidence but does provide a summary of its main findings. These are:
The fundamental argument is that even a 10% saving on military expenditure could double the funding available for Pharmac for life saving drugs. Every dollar wasted by defence is a dollar which could boost civilian services (e.g. to deprived children, police or the sick) or could be used to reduce the tax burden on the poorest members of our society.
Threats to New Zealand (or allies)
- There is no credible military threat to New Zealand.
- The Chinese navy is less capable than the British force that invaded the Falklands
- There is no credible Indonesian military threat to Australia
- There are credible cyber security threats to New Zealand but these are relatively small.
- Tectonic threats range from minor to nationally catastrophic which have no bearing on national defence.
- There are serious environmental risks which have some bearing on defence (e.g. fisheries).
Role of the Military
- There are no limitations in law to the potential role of the military
- Obligations under ANZUS are limited to "consultation" if any treaty partner is attacked
- The role of our military is largely diplomatic
- The military has a very limited role in natural disasters compared to the much larger civilian economy
Flaws in our military
- Lacking a credible military threat our expenditure on defence is excessive.
- Given our lack of a credible military threat expenditure on extremely expensive combat systems is unwarranted.
- We can meet our diplomatic obligations without our most expensive combat systems, and have done so.
- Our military's judgement when it comes to expenditure is professionally self-serving and offers terrible tax-payer value
- The LAV III armoured personnel carriers (@ $7m each), NH90s (@$96m each) do not provide any useful function given that i ) there is no credible threat and ii ) the expense and practical limitations of deploying them overseas.
- The SH-2G Seasprites and the Texan II trainers imply a combat role which is not worth $100m per year.
- Military operations are excessively expensive compared to comparable civilian ones
- There is very little awareness by the military of the civilian sacrifice military expenditure involves
Opportunities from defence spending
- Most western governments use defence spending to assist local industry, the NZDF could do a lot more of this
- There are significant opportunities in:
- Outdoor clothing
- Outdoor education and training tourism
Toward a focused defence structure
- The current defence structure hides its fat in large, poorly defined units with no immediately connection to public expenditure line items
- It is possible to redefine the defence structure to make the return on taxpayer dollar by unit type more transparent
- New Zealand has no business
- By defining the Air Force and Navy as combat units New Zealand creates an unnecessary level of expenditure given that both service arms typically deal with at most armed civilians ( e.g. Taliban, pirates, anti-government rebels etc) and mostly deal with unarmed civilians (fishing poachers, smugglers, search and rescue). In fact both units are more similar to the US Coastguard than the Navy or Air Force and could be more usefully combined into an armed Coastguard.
- The Army should incorporate the armed rotary squadrons of the Air Force just as the Australian Army (and US Army) has done.
- The Army should inherit an armed Marine branch from the Navy
- The Army doesn't need to train territorials but it could use former soldiers as reservists
- There is about $800 million in surplus assets which should be sold to pay for replacements
- Training has commercial opportunities and a NZ Defence Academy could offer income potential
- There is scope for a Defence Venture fund and no need for the current Defence Research Agency to be owned by the crown
Equipping a focused defence structure
- The advent of Rocket Labs adds an enormous communications and reconnaissance opportunity
- The Coastguard can be equipped to patrol cost effectively over our SAR responsibility from the Tokelaus to the Ross Sea
- More use of civilian contractors for air transport would reduce costs considerably
- The helicopters we have don't do what we need of them, so unfortunately we need to replace some of them
- There is scope for domestic development of UAVs and patrol boats
- Any vehicles the army operates must be dual civilian/military use and provide appropriate protection and mobility
Meeting Roles with a focused force
- A focused force can achieve any conceivable task as well or better than the existing force