NZ’s defence needs an overhaul

Dr Lance Beath says that NZ’s army-focussed defence strategy is outdated (being based on the structure in the First World War and the Boer War!) and we need a radical redesign of the whole system.

His suggestions include

  • Increased funding (greater than 1% of GDP).
  • We must have a combat air force.
  • Focus on maritime forces, due to our location.
  • Restructure the army as an embarked marine combat brigade.
  • More ships for the navy.

These are the people we should be listening to. Instead the government scraps our aerial combat wing, and buys armoured vehicles we can’t even carry in our transport aircraft and that aren’t amphibious so are of limited use in island combat anyway. This follows on from the recent official military report that the military is seriously unprepared for combat.

The Family Party will increase defence spending to 2% of GDP. But we need to be listening to people like this to figure out where the money should actually be spent. Maybe we should be bringing the Aermacchi’s back into service (they’re still not that old), and mothballing the Skyhawks as a war reserve? Maybe we should be buying a few small submarines? We certainly need more teeth in the military than it has at present. Most importantly, we need good relationships with like-minded countries.

My personal view is that we should be focussing on accumulating heavy firepower, ships and aircraft, and not worrying so much about having a much larger infantry (although we will be reviving the Maori Battalions). We have a well-armed population and could knock together a large home guard at short notice if we were desperate. But we cannot obtain heavy firepower once a war has started, you need to have that already.

We also need to have a detailed analysis of how we would survive should our supply lines be cut. In the last major combat that affected us, WWII, we were much less reliant on imports. Now virtually everything we use is imported, from light bulbs to fuel to many foods. We need to know how to deal with being cut off from the rest of the world, as today this would affect us far more severely than it did in WWII.

5 Responses to “NZ’s defence needs an overhaul”

  1. Sb Says:

    I agree with all of you list except this one

    “We must have a combat air force.”

    Why what possible use it it? What conceivable threat would it be use against?

    You want to enhance the air force fine replace the C-130. You want to improve the Army air arm – fine buy more NH90’s.
    You want to improve maritime – fine buy some new MPA’s

    You want to improve firepower – fine buy gunship helicopters.

    All of these are much more deserving than a couple of aircraft.

    “the Skyhawks as a war reserve” – what! , their engines are knackered, the airframes are worn out, the electronics are obsolete, they lack modern targeting systems and radios.

    “large home guard at short notice if we were desperate” again what possible use would these be? home guards ceased having any military relevance somewhere between the Boer war and WW2.


  2. Mr Dennis Says:

    The need for a combat air force was his recommendation, not mine, but I see his point. It could attack ships, and offer some air defence against aerial attack. Of course SAMs might be more practical. The reason I suggest putting the Skyhawks in a war reserve is simply because we can’t sell them, we may as well keep them in case we need them. Sure they’re old, but if I had a choice between no combat aircraft and a few old combat aircraft in an emergency I know which I’d prefer.

    Your argument against a home guard is the argument I am using against concentrating on infantry – we should be concentrating in other areas for that reason.

  3. Sb Says:

    “The reason I suggest putting the Skyhawks in a war reserve is simply because we can’t sell them, we may as well keep them in case we need them”

    The problem with that is that keeping them there costs money, money that can’t be spent on something else if you spiend it there. They are now worse than useless they actually drain money from new equipment.

    lets sell them for scrap value then use the money to buy brand new radios for the Army who currently have a shortage.

    If the Family Party wants to have a credible policy then they need to start by identifying the threat before they try and identify the solution to that threat. Otherwise they will just sound like another bunch of plonkers.


  4. Mr Dennis Says:

    At the moment the Skyhawks are being maintained in running order, which is very expensive. By “mothballing” I mean dismantling them and putting them in long-term storage, which would cost very little.

    At the moment there is no direct threat to NZ. That makes it a perfect time to ensure we have a good, well rounded military that can respond to a threat when and if one arises. You can’t wait till you can identify a specific threat before building up your military, by that time it is too late. But we do know that when there is a threat, it must come by air or by sea, so we need to be able to defend against both of those. We also need strong relationships with Australia and the USA, because we’re a piddly little country that can’t really fight off anyone big.

  5. Sb Says:

    They are still worn out old crap. There is no conceivable use for them in any conflict. Better to sell them for their scrap metal value and use the money for something needed today.

    “At the moment there is no direct threat to NZ” – correct and that is one of the reasons why we don’t need a strike arm.

    “perfect time to ensure we have a good, well rounded military”
    Given the size of NZ our wealth and the cost of modern military strike aircraft it is simply impossible for NZ to afford such a military.

    “You can’t wait till you can identify a specific threat before building up your military” of course you can! we are not facing a Pearl Harbour situation here. Any conceivable threat to NZ will be visible years in advance.

    The answer is build a air force when you need one. History suggests contrary to military myth that it is indeed possible to gain capability very quickly when there is a will and funding.


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