NZDF

Level and variety of Defence Force activities "unprecedented" says Chief of Defence

15 September 2010

From expanded youth programmes, to responding to disasters in the Pacific, to peacemaking and peacekeeping operations – the New Zealand Defence Force’s Annual Report describes an “unprecedented” level of activity.

Among the list of commitments highlighted by the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae, were:

The expansion of schemes to help develop the potential of young New Zealanders – the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) scheme, Service Academies in Schools, and military-style activity camps; Routine operations in support of other government agencies including Fisheries, Customs, Conservation and Police in and around New Zealand that have become “core business” for the Defence Force; Humanitarian emergencies in the Pacific that included the Princess Ashika ferry tragedy; destructive cyclones in the Cook Islands and Fiji; and the devastating tsunami that affected Samoa and Tonga; and  New Zealand’s military commitment to places like Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, which was enhanced with the return to theatre of Special Forces troops. 

LT GEN Mateparae also pointed to other opportunities the Defence Force has been managing, including the introduction into full operational service of the Navy’s new Protector fleet of ships; building readiness for the new helicopter force; and other ongoing modernisation programmes.

“Already these ships and aircraft are providing a significant lift to our overall capability to conduct routine operations, our responsiveness to emergencies at home and being ready for the next task – whatever that may be,” he says. “I think people will have noticed that the new multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury has been our ‘go-to’ capability in a whole range of circumstances.”

Meanwhile, the Annual Report notes that the Defence Force has been vigorously pursuing its efficiency programme the Defence Transformation Programme (DTP) and contributing to the Government’s Defence White Paper process.

“Benefits of this programme are being delivered. The DTP has already reaped savings of $84m through delivering tactical ‘quick win’ projects, and is now implementing further critical transformational change. Once fully implemented I expect the DTP to deliver enduring savings that can be shifted from the ‘back’ of the Defence Force to the ‘front’ of between $50m - $100m per year.”

Lt Gen Mateparae has acknowledged that the overall “high tempo” places pressure on the Defence Force being able to meet the expectations of Government and ordinary New Zealanders. He has therefore prioritised in the coming year:

  • maintaining current military commitments;
  • developing Naval Patrol Force operations and the Navy’s sealift capability;
  • building the Operational Dive Team (ODT);
  • ensuring the availability of aircraft and crews for operations; and
  • building specialist personnel numbers in the Army.

LT GEN Mateparae has commended the men and women of the Defence Force for responding to the workload as well as unexpected challenges that arose over the past year.

“We ask a lot of our people, both military and civilian, and I continue to admire the professionalism and the commitment they make in the service of New Zealand,” he says. “In all military activities there are risks, whether deployed on operations, training or preparing for a mission. It is with deep sadness that I also reflect on the loss of colleagues during the year. Our thoughts are with the families as they face the loss of loved ones.”

Highlights from the Annual Report include:

NAVY

  • ANZAC Frigates exceed targeted sea days by 17%
  • Naval Support Forces match targeted sea days,
  • HMNZS CANTERBURY responds to Pacific Tsunami, trains with Australian (Ex Squadex, Ex Sealion) and French forces (Ex Croix du Sud)
  • Mine Countermeasures and Diving Forces exceed targeted sea days by 16%; divers deliver 300 hours
  • Navy’s new Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPVs) exceed targeted sea days by 11%
  • Navy takes delivery of new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) HMNZ Ships OTAGO and WELLINGTON

ARMY

  • Land Combat Forces were prepared for warfighting operations with concurrent deployments to Timor Leste, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan equating to a light infantry battalion group.
  • Personnel growth focused in combat units allowed Army to sustain an increased operational tempo – a High Preparedness Platoon Group was provided for short notice contingencies; and a higher level of training in combined arms environment was achieved.
  • Land Combat Support Forces improved their trained state in combat operations over the last year with one-off combat support able to be provided to up to an infantry battalion group.
  • Special Operations Forces were maintained at a high state of readiness, and were deployed during the reporting period.

AIR FORCE

  • With a significant level of modernisation across the RNZAF, aircraft and crews were capable of being deployed within designated response times, though ongoing modernisation of a large number of aircraft created challenges.
  • Completion of the Boeing 757 fleet modification allowed support flights including those to Afghanistan, Asia, Australia, Fiji, India, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, Timor Leste, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
  • Effective standardisation with other forces was achieved with participation in exercises Maple Guardian (Canada), Swift Eagle (Australia) and regular operational support flights to Afghanistan.
    P3 Orion aircraft undertook 16 search and rescue missions; 10 surveillance flights in the South Pacific; 40 missions in support of other Government agencies including MFish, NZ Customs, and Police; 2 southern ocean patrols; and carried out high explosive bombing training.
  • Progress was made towards introduction into service of the NH90 medium and A109 light utility helicopters. Crew training will begin in France later this year.

ENDS

Point of contact for all media inquiries is Defence Communications, Commander Phil Bradshaw on 021 441 493.

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