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Role of the military

What is the legal role of the NZ Defence Force?

The Defence Act 1990 makes fairly plain (section 5) what the armed forces are for. Namely:
  • (a) the defence of New Zealand, and of any area for the defence of which New Zealand is responsible under any Act:
Realm of New Zealand (Wikipedia)
Realm of New Zealand
(source Wikipedia)
  • (b) the protection of the interests of New Zealand, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere:

  • (e) the provision of assistance to the civil power either in New Zealand or elsewhere in time of emergency:

  • (f) the provision of any public service

It should be noted the Act does not prioritise these roles.
Section 9 reinforces this as follows:
Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, the Armed Forces may be used in New Zealand or elsewhere—
  • (a) to perform any public service; or

  • (b) to provide assistance to the civil power in time of emergency

Effectively as police constables where no civillian authority is present. There are limitations regarding industrial disputes and the length of time that defence force staff may be used under emergancy powers.
The ANZUS treaty was revitalised following the Wellington declaration  on 4 November 2010. 
COMMENT: The defence force can legally be used for pretty much anything relating to the risks described earlier. The 1951 Anzus Treaty essentially does not obligate any of the parties to do anything specific except consult in the advent of an armed attack in the Pacific on any asset. The treaty is essentially defensive. The treaty does require the parties to maintain their own defences, though the relative scale of the American, Australian and New Zealand defence forces makes any notion of equality between them laughable.

Defence Policy (Current)

The Government's policy for the 2011-14 period is outlined in the NZDF Statement of Intent
Government’s Key Goals
The NZDF will contribute to two key Government goals over the term of this Statement of Intent. These goals are to:
• lift the long-term performance of the economy so as to make New Zealand a more prosperous country, capable of providing well-paid jobs, a better standard of living, and a world-class public service; and
• make significant social sector reforms so as to provide more quality services at less cost and to better equip New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, to face the significant economic challenges of an increasingly competitive world.
Government’s National Security Interests
The NZDF contributes to these goals by acting in a lead or supporting role, to achieve:
• a safe and secure New Zealand, including its border and approaches;
• a rules-based international order, which respects national sovereignty;
• a network of strong international linkages; and
• a sound global economy underpinned by open trade routes.
COMMENT: There is not much to do with fighting wars in this policy. NZDF is given a role supporting open trade routes, enforcing sovereignty and keeping NZ secure (although it is not stated from what).

NZDF Doctrine

Doctrine seeks to provide a common conceptual framework for a military service:
  • what the service perceives itself to be ("Who are we?")
  • what its mission is ("What do we do?")
  • how the mission is to be carried out ("How do we do that?")
  • how the mission has been carried out in history ("How did we do that in the past?")
  • other questions
The NZDF published its 2008 doctrine here
The antecedents of this document are largely Australian with some input from the British.
The importance of doctrine should not be underestimated by non-military readers. In the words of the 2008 doctrine:

"By describing the nature and characteristics of current and immediate future military operations, doctrine contributes to the NZDF’s ability to fight and win. It does this by setting a common framework within which to plan, train and conduct military operations. Doctrine guides preparation for these operations in peacetime and describes the methods for successfully conducting military operations in the New Zealand context. Doctrine also fundamentally shapes the way the NZDF thinks about the use of the military instrument of national power." (1-5)

NZDF doctrine is largely devoted to conflict scenarios because

1.12 War is the greatest challenge to peace. Therefore the NZDF must train to win in war. In doing so it also trains to conduct operations amongst the populace. This enables the NZDF to conduct peace support operations and stability and support operations more effectively. Conversely, to forego preparedness for warfighting would undermine the NZDF’s ability to conduct operations requiring a credible military presence. Ultimately, this would endanger both the mission and the service personnel called to perform it.

NZDF doctrine recognises that the defence force has a role supporting other agencies but reiterates that only the NZDF is equipped for defence.
COMMENT: The 2008 doctrine is an advance on its predecessors. The problem is its conception of war is highly retrospective. In short it is locked into World War Two. Unofficial Chinese military thinking and certainly El Qaeda doctrine is that war is not limited to the use of conventional weapons in open conflict. All means, including nuclear, biological, chemical, cyber, diplomatic, legal, industrial, criminal (eg the drug trade), and financial as well as sabotage, terrorism and overt use of force are regarded as legitimate means to bring about the defeat of the enemy (consider the fact that El Qaeda shorted stocks likely to be effected by its own 911 attacks). Very little of this is within the perview of the NZDF. To a certain extent the NZDF could easily become a victim of narrow minded silo-ism by failing to address the multi-dimensional aspects of its presence in areas of conflict ( for example the sale of drugs by the PLO to Israeli soldiers during the occupation of Lebanon).
There is also a question of whether some very important non-conventional roles of the NZDF involve an enemy at all. Consider cyclone relief, fisheries sustainability or search and rescue tasks. These have constituted significant proportions of NZDF missions. They are covered by some elements of doctrine but the doctrine remains wedded to the notion of conflict.

Role of military with respect to prisons

The following military bases are adjacent to the following prisons
 Camp  Prison  Distance
 Whenuapai air  Paremoremo  5km by air
 Linton army  Manawatu  0km
 Trentham army  Rimutaka  1km
 Burnham army  Christchurch Men's  24.5km
Crown land is the common denominator between military bases and prisons, however it doesn't hurt to have an available pool of resource to deal with mass break-outs, in the unlikely event of their occurring. Military personnel have also taken the place of Corrections staff occasionally, when the latter were involved in industrial negotiations with the Government. 

Role of the military with respect to Diplomacy

 War, was described by Claus von Clauswitz as diplomacy by other means.
Another way of looking at this is war is politics with guns.
The important thing to bear in mind that whether the guns are used or not, it is all politics.
The deployment of the NZDF owes more to diplomacy and politics with respect to other nations than any other cause.
New Zealand's diplomatic priorities are set out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There are some peculiar omissions here. Japan is being eclipsed by the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and South Korea in terms of fashionability but remains a very important trading partner.
New Zealand's trade diplomacy has always been very different to Australia's. While the two countries are inevitably entwined both in terms of settlement and culturally the free trade agreement between the two countries is not without its issues. Like partners in a marriage the two nations remain individuals and are not incapable of diplomatic spats. New Zealanders in particular mistrust their larger partner for its tendency towards expediency which can carry painful protectionist shocks. Refusing New Zealand Apple exports and reneging on open skies policies have shown Australia will put its own interests first if there is any internal political resistance.
Militarily the NZDF has long accepted a subordinate role to the ADF. There is a tendency for some in the military to get misty-eyed and refer to the ANZAC spirit on these ocassions. In practice this means that most major items of equipment were acquired because the Australians were buying them (Meko frigates, NH90 helicopters, Kaman Seasprites, Unimog 1700 trucks, Steyr rifles, 105mm Hamel guns). The main exception being the LAV III which was made in Canada. There is an element of Eurocentricism in this, assuming that two colonial nations will need to buy together in order to get suitable service support. In fact it has largely only benefitted Australia.
On international deployments the NZDF only deploys with Australian forces on islands close to Australia eg Timor-Leste and the Solomons.  In Bosnia it deployed with British forces. In Afghanistan with American. There is an understandable tendency to deploy with other English language command structures.
This is largely because New Zealand and Australian foreign policy remain quite distinct.