As a global trading nation, New Zealand has wide-ranging economic, trading and other interests to which challenges can and do arise. These require the support of well-focused foreign and defence policies. Of particular importance is the Pacific/East Asia region, because of our economic links, and uncertainties about regional security.
New Zealand’s defence policy is contained in the Defence Policy Framework released in 2000. The Framework:
The five defence policy objectives are to:
The detail of how the Defence Force will be shaped for the future and the capabilities it will have to perform its roles and tasks, have been spelled out in the 2001 Defence Statement and the Defence Force’s 10 year Long-Term Development Plan released in 2002. The key components of these are:
The focus is on a sustainable, modern, combat trained Defence Force that is able to both meet New Zealand’s own defence and security needs, and make a useful contribution when it is deployed.
The Ministry of Defence was established in 1989. Its roles are: to provide high-quality advice to help the government make well informed judgements concerning the defence of New Zealand interests; to arrange for the acquisition of major items of military equipment needed to meet the capability requirements agreed on by the Government; and to conduct audits and assessments of the Defence Force and the major procurement activities of the Ministry.
The primary mission of the New Zealand Defence Force is to maintain a level of armed forces sufficient to deal with low-level contingencies affecting New Zealand and its region, and able to contribute to collective efforts where our wider interests are involved.
The New Zealand Defence Force employs about 8,550 men and women in uniform and 1,880 civilians including:
There are also 2,368 men and women in the Army Territorial Force and the Navy and Air Force Reserves.
Combat and support
The New Zealand Army combat force comprises two regular battalions, artillery batteries, engineers and light armour. The Naval combat force is comprised of three frigates, Te Kaha, Te Mana, and Canterbury and naval helicopters. The Air Force comprises a Rotary Wing Force of 14 Iroquois utility helicopters, a Maritime Force of six P3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a Fixed Wing Air Transport Force of five C130 Hercules and two Boeing 757 transport aircraft.
Support and logistics for the combat forces include drivers, medics,
signallers, suppliers, store-people, mechanics and technicians.
What do they do?
The defence forces are ready to go anywhere in support of New Zealand’s interests. To be prepared they must train. At the most basic level this means improving their skill at arms, both as individuals and as units, and training to work together as teams. It includes training in how to use equipment, and how to work with other units, other services and the defence forces of other countries.
Over the past decade the Defence Force has contributed to a number of international peace support operations.
In 2002 there were some 800 personnel from all three Services in
14 missions in four continents, plus the South West Pacific. The largest
mission – and the largest operational deployment since the Korean
War – was the contribution to Timor Leste, (known as East Timor),
initially 1100 personnel from the Navy, Army and Air Force.
The Defence Force is one of New Zealand’s largest training organisations. Since 1970, it has supported, in partnership with our communities, the New Zealand Cadet Forces, a youth development organisation that currently has 4,200 cadets and officers in 103 cadet units throughout the country. Since 1993, it has helped some 2,000 unemployed young people gain practical job skills and personal development under the Limited Service Volunteer Scheme. Sixty percent of these graduates have gone on to work or further training. In addition to military training, the Defence Force has civilian as well as uniformed staff doing university courses and trades training.
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The three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) parade before Wellington crowds on their return from peace-keeping in East Timor.