02 November 2010

New Zealand Defence White Paper Launched

02 November 2010

Royal New Zealand Navy personnel in an ANZAC frigate operations room (photo : NZ DoD)

WELLINGTON (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday launched the Defence White Paper, the first comprehensive defence review in 13 years.

"This delivers on a promise we made prior to the 2008 election and provides a framework for reform, particularly how we can get the best value for money from our defence budget," Key said.

More frontline soldiers, sailors and airmen are the key to New Zealand's defence future but there is not much in extra money, a defence white paper has revealed Tuesday.

The long-awaited New Zealand Defence Force white paper says there will be more investment in front-line personnel for all three branches of the military as many uniformed personnel are freed from roles to be taken over by an increasing number of civilians working within the military.

Defence Minister Dr. Wayne Mapp said the last white paper was 13 years ago and the world had changed considerably since then.

On the quarterdeck of the multi-role ship HMNZS Canterbury at the Devonport naval base in Auckland, he said the white paper outlined the Government's defence objectives for the next 25 years.

While New Zealand was unlikely to face a direct military threat, there were growing pressures on maritime resources and an increased possibility of illegal migration, he said.

"The outlook for the South Pacific is one of fragility."

While the focus would be on the South Pacific it did not mean New Zealand would do less elsewhere.

The combat effectiveness of the army would be enhanced and the navy's two Anzac frigates would be upgraded to ensure they could continue to work effectively with New Zealand defence partners, he said. Short-range search and rescue aircraft would be introduced to free up the costly Orion maritime surveillance aircraft for other core duties.

More elite troops would be added to the Special Air Services to reduce the strain on an internationally recognized force in considerable demand.

Mapp said changes in the distribution of resources within the defence force would free up to 300 million NZ dollars (228 million U.S. dollars) a year for more front-line capabilities.

The army would be restructured to increase its combat capability so that up to 800 soldiers could be sent offshore every year for three years in six-monthly rotations.

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