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NZDF General discussion thread

This is a discussion on NZDF General discussion thread within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; The Govt's budget today, announced a modest increase in defence spending of $52M this year (or $309M over 4 years), ...


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Old May 28th, 2009   #1201
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Budget

The Govt's budget today, announced a modest increase in defence spending of $52M this year (or $309M over 4 years), the link below shows where this money will be spent.
Beehive - Budget boosts Defence Force capability
That's roughly a 5% increase but I guess we await the outcome of the White paper next year to see whether further increases will result.
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Old May 28th, 2009   #1202
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Originally Posted by recce.k1 View Post
The Govt's budget today, announced a modest increase in defence spending of $52M this year (or $309M over 4 years), the link below shows where this money will be spent.
Beehive - Budget boosts Defence Force capability
That's roughly a 5% increase but I guess we await the outcome of the White paper next year to see whether further increases will result.
Wayne Mapp's ruled out any significant further 'structural' increases in the Defence vote, but possibly specific project funding could be at levels that allow greater capability!?!

Interestingly there's no specific mention of money put aside to recitfy HMNZS Canterbury, and possbily the OPV's - although they're all subject to mediation now.
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Old May 30th, 2009   #1203
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White Paper

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Originally Posted by recce.k1 View Post
This was released last month, but I don't think I've seen mention of it here(?). Here's the upcoming Defence Review plus links to the terms of reference and the review timelines etc.
2009 Defence Review - Defence White Paper

I have also just stumbled upon an article written by Paul Buchanan on the subject:
Scoop: Reorganizing (the) Defence?
I do agree with Dr Buchanan's reasoning that the defence review should be broader and look at recent decisions affecting NZ Defence in the last several years. On the othe hand I wonder perhaps if he is over playing the DefMin's (alleged lack of) abilities (apparently Dr Mapp was involved in defence intelligence or am I mistaken, so should be no dummy to the geo-political landscape?) but again I do share Dr Buchanan's concerns of the DefMin playing down an increase in defence expenditure to align more with Australia's (as even an increase from eg 1% to 1.5% of gdp would provide significant funding for defence).

[Incidentally I noticed last year that Paul Buchanan signed up on DT, it would be great to have him (and others) comment occasionally here and get some informed analysis and discussion going, especially no doubt as some of us here may wish to put in a submission to the Defence review etc].
Hello recce.k1 and others:

I find this forum a good place to stop by and get a feel for the debates on NZDF matters. I more of a reader than a commentator at this point, but will simply say that the more of you make submissions to the Defence Review Board, the better. The recently announced budget allocated $NZ1 million to producing the White Paper (out of the NZ$58 million increase this year), so that should buy a lot of paper on which to print your input.
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Old May 30th, 2009   #1204
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The prime minister was hosted onboard hmnzs canterbury earlier this year, one of the interesting comments he made was, ideally he would like to see defence spending go from 1% of the budget to 3/4%
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Old May 30th, 2009   #1205
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White Paper

Treasury sees no real change in defense outlays as percentage of GDP (in constant NZ dollars) through 2011. Given public priorities and the financial climate of the moment, it will be difficult for the government to sell a 1.5% of GDP defense budget to the voters. Best then to focus the NZ$52 million/year on immediate priority upgrades and projects. With the US request for more Kiwi troops in Afghanistan and National's interest in staying on-side with the US, that means focusing on the SAS and getting another infantry company/artillery battery into operational readiness/deployable condition. What with other foreign deployments and the stretched condition of the Army, that will be very hard to do.

The White Paper has NZ$1 million allocated to it, so that buys a lot of paper on which to print your submissions. Time to get writing!

I enjoy reading in this forum.
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Old May 30th, 2009   #1206
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The prime minister was hosted onboard hmnzs canterbury earlier this year, one of the interesting comments he made was, ideally he would like to see defence spending go from 1% of the budget to 3/4%
The only way this would ever happen would be if the country was running large fiscal supluses (and then 2% might happen), something that is unlikely to happen in the next ten years thanks to the previous government, unless something radical happens such as we find Saudi type oil reserves in the Southern basin or the price of milk solids jumps to $20 a kilo
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1207
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New zealand does not need fighter aircraft. It would be a waste of money. they would not have enough to deploy oversea's and they couldn't afford aircraft good enough to actually be of use.

As New zealand will never come under air attack it does not need fighter jets.

New Zealand should have excellent ocean patrolling. Global Hawk and P-3 Orions are all New Zealand would need to perform this mission.
I agree with what you write. It surprises me how many people want to waste a small fortune on limited fighter force that will be at best, mediocre, on a world scale. I think it is just nostalgia and a lack of understanding of what it takes to maintain an effective world class fighter force today. NZ's entire military spend wouldn't come close to being able to do that. And, to boot, even countries with fighter forces are adapting right now as a result of the radical and rapid progress of UAV's. There is even talk that the F-35 program may be shorter lived than originally anticipated as UAV's start taking more and more of the strike role.

If New Zealand sees a need for aerial support - UAV's are the way to go. Much bigger bang for the buck - and to boot, they seem perfect for long boring maritime missions. A small expert UAV force would really add to NZ's power in the region, and with the buy in of universities, and military suppliers in North America or elsewhere, with its educated population, NZ could develop a role as a small test bed for some useful new technologies.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1208
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I agree with what you write. It surprises me how many people want to waste a small fortune on limited fighter force that will be at best, mediocre, on a world scale. I think it is just nostalgia and a lack of understanding of what it takes to maintain an effective world class fighter force today. NZ's entire military spend wouldn't come close to being able to do that. And, to boot, even countries with fighter forces are adapting right now as a result of the radical and rapid progress of UAV's. There is even talk that the F-35 program may be shorter lived than originally anticipated as UAV's start taking more and more of the strike role.

If New Zealand sees a need for aerial support - UAV's are the way to go. Much bigger bang for the buck - and to boot, they seem perfect for long boring maritime missions. A small expert UAV force would really add to NZ's power in the region, and with the buy in of universities, and military suppliers in North America or elsewhere, with its educated population, NZ could develop a role as a small test bed for some useful new technologies.
Fighters? Yes we dont need fighters. I dont think we have actually had "fighters" in the RNZAF since the days of the Vampire / P-51 in the early 50's. We had up until a decade ago the A-4 which did have a secondary role as a "fighter" but based more in the wriggle out of harms way doctrine. What constitutes a fighter today is a million miles away from those days.

CAS and Interdiction is the issue. Not CAP or AirDef so we obviously dont need fighters or unfocused reasoning like defending NZ shores from unnamed imperialists. Long term UAV's still are the answer per EEZ work and standoff attack. However the UAV's will need some time before before they can do the close air support role better. Maybe in ten years it will start to emerge.

Looking at the ghastly hole in the treasury books the previous govt left it will be 10 years before UAV's will be in the affordability / capability ballpark. Unless the ASEAN region gets hotter within the next decade. Then NZ will have to do the catch-up pretty quick.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1209
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^I agree we don't need fighters - which is why it wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of money purchasing something like an F16 - a fighter / attack aircraft (which is what the A4 Skyhawk was as well - it was even used by the US as a training proxy for Mig 17).

Building up technical expertise and infrastructure to support UAV's would make a lot of sense though. Along with manned transport - this is the type of "combat" and "reconnaissance" air force NZ could ultimately support and be reasonably good at. It is something worth focusing on.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1210
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^I agree we don't need fighters - which is why it wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of money purchasing something like an F16 - a fighter / attack aircraft (which is what the A4 Skyhawk was as well - it was even used by the US as a training proxy for Mig 17).
I assumed the residual A4 fighter capability was justified by NZ's armed services cadre doctine. Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought one of the central roles of the NZDF is keeping the capacity to rapidly upskill an expanded armed services during times of strategic crisis. This capability would be based upon a core of highly trained individuals in normal times who would become leaders/trainers.

For sure the A4 strike force couldn't a be serious defence for national territory, but (again I assumed) the avionics suite upgrades meant that to the personnel of the force wouldn't find a US state of the art fighter jet overly alien. Maybe its cold war thinking, but not keeping the fighter/strike force to maintain the fast jet pilot/ground crew skill sets seems like putting a gaping whole in NZ's strategic ability to respond to a deterioration in regional security.

Money is always going to be tight so maybe it is the best of a set of dismal choices for the armed services, but I think it and other capability holes leaves NZ ever more geopolitically dependent on Oz and more vulnerable to defence 'take it or leave it' offers where the choice is between isolation or involvement on terms that don't best suit NZ.

I think there has been an unspoken abandonment of the cadre doctrine with politicians talking more about what the services can do now and the NZDF needing to justify itself in terms of 'outputs'. This means a remodelling of the NZDF and I think politicians don't realise that it also means significant upside risks to the defence budget in times of greater security instability.

If outputs are not achieved then bureaucrats have 2 choices- increase inputs or abandon those outputs. I think the A4s were a victim of this approach because noone could link their outputs with any tangible outcome (maybe through a lack of imagination).

Whereas NZ's navy and the army are increasingly being asked to provide assets in all sorts of theatres their output requirement is increasing. If MOFAT and the White Paper keep identifying SP and SEA as spheres of interest and sh*t keeps happening I can't see how parliament will be able to duck the bill. If there are boots on the ground there is inevitable pressure to equip them properly (see the media questions about a-stan equipment). Will politicians now be able to repeatedly tell parliament that NZ cannot have any more involvement in external problems (anti-piracy coalitions, a-stan, solomons, e timor) because NZ does not have the capacity?

Been rambling on too long.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1211
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Yes the debate over F-16's versus this and that is over and does not seem to be relevant anymore. Financially off the table for good. That said it was the best cost benefit option available circa 1998/99 per the wider capability coverage NZ required. Its like broken record stuff on this site that the mere mention of the topic is starting to force me into a cup of tea and a lie down.

However, I would not support an indigenous development of a UAV. Sorry, but we cannot do it without cutting precious research funding to other area's with greater economic potential, less risk of failure, where we are already ahead and/or require less development time to get to a point to be competitively viable. We have only so much research dollars and are at the head of the game in many AgTech / Bio/Sci areas so thats where we need to keep pushing the research envelope. UAV's will be bought off the shelf by a future NZDF, let the those well ahead in the Aerospace game specialise in UAV's is my view.

What NZ really has to do mid to long term in terms of military aviation - is to now go for a couple of world class capabilities such as logistical airlift and maritime surveillance, that it can contribute alongside the US, Australia & Singapore as a significant multiplier in the region, (with obviously operational utility for ourselves). I am starting to think that a C-17 capability to replace the C-130's and the B757 introduced in 10 to 12 years to provide strategic lift. (The Globee will still be in production - its too valuable and too good to let go). Alongside that a Very Long Range Maritime Patrol and Stand Off Attack capability to replace the Orions. Thus the P-8 / Global Hawk.

As every year has passed since the DSI came into being, we have lost combat capability to a point where we have only small pockets of relevance as in terms of realistic "war" fitness in the NZDF. So maybe we need to forget about having the direct combat capability outselves - its almost that we have lost too much ground in that area and that we have got to the point where it is no longer able to be recovered. If we took an OECD baseline average of GDP defence spend which we had prior to 1992 (and used to surpass) and then compared that with the 17 years of underfunding that has followed, 10 years of which was well below or half what it once was, there is an argument to be made that more than $20 Billion is "lost" in this period. To recover that loss to a point where we would again have overselves a viable yet modest combat capable defend force, would involve a reinvestment at least of that amount to get properly back in the game in a 21st century context.

What I would like to see from the White Paper is at least a general concept of what we are going to do about defence in terms of capability from 2020 through to 2035. In many respects that is the key part of whether the new government is going to get it right. Pretty much we are stuck with what we have planned for back in 2000-2005. What was planned and delivered then is all we have to go with next decade. If we find out it was wrong the trail of blame will lead back to the Burton era for those who understand the policy history. Sadly many wont. It will be fingers crossed for the Nation until then. It will be fingers crossed for the current or for any future government as well because whether or not they wanted the NZDF to be the way it is - is still a moot point. If all goes pear shaped they will be the ones who will carry the political fallout.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1212
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Yes the debate over F-16's versus this and that is over and does not seem to be relevant anymore. Financially off the table for good....
I know you are right about CAS/strike...its a spilt milk issue. I think you are on the money on UAVs too.

I've thought C-17s would be a good asset too, but mainly because of a personal interest in Antarctica. Buying eye-wateringly expensive C-17s to reinforce NZ's presence on the Ice was I thought unreasonable given the fringe nature of the interest and the paucity of the Defence budget.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Navy seems in better shape than in any other time I personally can remember. Its the Army which seems understaffed, overstretched and inappropriately equipt. Thats not to say the Navy may need more.

Retreating from combat capability seems defeatist in a policy sense.
Governmental budgets always look apocalyptic in a recession and too good during a boom. The time to judge budget affordability is once the world economy returns to an even keel, and I suspect the NZ economy is better placed for growth and definintely budget surpluses than UK, Japan, maybe even US.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1213
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I know you are right about CAS/strike...its a spilt milk issue. I think you are on the money on UAVs too.

I've thought C-17s would be a good asset too, but mainly because of a personal interest in Antarctica. Buying eye-wateringly expensive C-17s to reinforce NZ's presence on the Ice was I thought unreasonable given the fringe nature of the interest and the paucity of the Defence budget.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Navy seems in better shape than in any other time I personally can remember. Its the Army which seems understaffed, overstretched and inappropriately equipt. Thats not to say the Navy may need more.

Retreating from combat capability seems defeatist in a policy sense.
Governmental budgets always look apocalyptic in a recession and too good during a boom. The time to judge budget affordability is once the world economy returns to an even keel, and I suspect the NZ economy is better placed for growth and definintely budget surpluses than UK, Japan, maybe even US.
Couple of points to cover off.

C-17's are expensive, but it would work in the context of a mixed two tier airlift approach. Light C-27/CASA295 and Heavy C-17. Its how one slices and dices the cost. Also the fact is I am thinking of a post 2020 context when the C-130's and the B757 are beyond time. The economic upswing will make the purchase affordable and the upswing economically will be timely in terms of affording it.

The reality is that we have lost combat capability at the sharp already. It slowly evaporated pretty much over the last 20 years. Combat capability was put into a coma about 8-9 years ago after been on a fairly slap happy life support footing since the mid 80's. Defeatist. No realism. Right now we could probably sustain one infantry company group for 12 months at a chapter seven level op. I would be risk adverse to put any aviation or naval assets within 500kms of anything which was chapter seven and a tempo above that. The NZDF will never operate above a Chapter 6 level by itself, though we have enough combat power to cope with the LIC / HSM stuff in the South Pacific at that level, and that should remain.

I am starting to think that as time has dragged on, that the institutional combat knowlege and doctrine has faded from large parts of the NZDF we have got to a point where that part of our capability - operating beyond Chp 7 - has gone. Since we have always been a force multiplier even back to the first expeditionary sojourne to Africa in 1899, I am starting to think that just a valid and needed contribution at the higher level of warfare is by offering logistical airlift and surveillance - what we used already and what we are good at. The teeth cant win the battle without the tail. The tail is usually the desicive bit in an evenly fought conflict.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1214
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Couple of points to cover off.

C-17's are expensive, but it would work in the context of a mixed two tier airlift approach. Light C-27/CASA295 and Heavy C-17. Its how one slices and dices the cost.

...The NZDF will never operate above a Chapter 6 level by itself, though we have enough combat power to cope with the LIC / HSM stuff in the South Pacific at that level, and that should remain.

I am starting to think that as time has dragged on, that the institutional combat knowlege and doctrine has faded from large parts of the NZDF we have got to a point where that part of our capability - operating beyond Chp 7 - has gone....The teeth cant win the battle without the tail. The tail is usually the desicive bit in an evenly fought conflict.
It took me a couple of reads to understand where you are coming from, but now I guess you are right. I thought you were suggesting a scaling down of size and abandonment of any ground combat capability, but I think you are suggesting a retooling toward independent lower intensity engagements and support of our allies in high end intensity engagements. I think that would be sensible over the next quarter century, barring something nasty.

One last thing, if there is a prolonged regional struggle and NZ has no "sharp end" resources to offer, won't our allies look at their sacrifices in blood and ask why NZ gets off so cheaply? It suits me, but it would take a ballsy PM to stare down the question repeatedly.

Last edited by Twickiwi; May 31st, 2009 at 05:14 PM.
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Old May 31st, 2009   #1215
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It took me a couple of reads to understand where you are coming from, but now I guess you are right. I thought you were suggesting a scaling down of size and abandonment of any ground combat capability, but I think you are suggesting a retooling toward independent lower intensity engagements and support of our allies in high end intensity engagements. I think that would be sensible over the next quarter century, barring something nasty.

One last thing, if there is a prolonged regional struggle and NZ has no "sharp end" resources to offer, won't our allies look at their sacrifices in blood and ask why NZ gets off so cheaply? It suits me, but it would take a ballsy PM to stare down the question repeatedly.
If it got serious we would be pulling our weight. However it would be in a different way. It will pretty much under a Timor type template. An Anzac command under an Australian commander and a Kiwi as a deputy. Australia would be providing the sharp aviation assets yet NZ would be providing real backbone to the logistical supply chain and surveillance capability. We would of course be able to place special forces and infantry companies (infantry battalions??) into the mix. With the proposed joint supply ship, the current sealift ship, future Anzac's all integrated into an Anzac structure (which could well be under a US higher command) I think that our contribution would be well supported. A rule of thumb is that no one is actually 100% safe and insulated from death in a combat theatre.
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