Current force

By comparison with South East Asian nations New Zealand's defence force is very small. This is as it should be. New Zealand's population is small and our economy nothing like as strong as many of our northern neighbours.

The defence force likes to portray itself as small but tough and professional. Our troops are certainly tough. But reading through reports by the Audit Office certainly raises questions about whether the staff officers are all that brilliant. There have been serious and glaring errors made in the acquisition of equipment and the deployment of that equipment which have, quite frankly cost New Zealand servicemen their lives. I refer here to the late deployment of LAV IIIs to Afghanistan because of the heavy cost of doing so (via Qantas charter), the use of Humvees in Afghanistan (because we have no mine protected vehicle), and the rather stupid attempt to use contract terms to overcome physics when specifying the HMNZS Canterbury and hoping that a ro-ro ferry built for sheltered waters will suddenly become an ocean-going landing platform dock. That, and the recurrent stories referring to alcohol abuse, particularly in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

While many people love the regalia and pomp of militaria it is this author's opinion that such people should not burden New Zealand taxpayers with their hobbies. The defence force is not a philatelic bureau it is an agency of the state with serious tasks to perform. It should be capable of achieving these tasks with precision, ease and economy. To do this it needs equipment, skills and training to do the job well.