8 March 2012
Reserve Forces will remain integral to the success of the New Zealand Defence Force in a plan for their future outlined today by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force.
Speaking to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Rear Admiral Jack Steer, says the NZ Defence Force has chosen a ‘Total Defence Workforce’ solution, which extends how the NZ Defence Force has been using its Reserve Force in recent years.
“Our Reserve Forces are able to provide well-integrated, part-time military personnel that help round-out or sustain NZ Defence Force elements deploying on and supporting operations,” he says.
Rear Admiral Steer says the bulk of the NZ Defence Force’s ‘Reserve’ personnel are attached to the NZ Army. He outlined a plan for an ‘Active Component’ Reserve that will not go below a strength of 1200 Army reservists, who will train for an average of 24 days a year. In addition, there will be a ‘Stand-by Reserve’ component of personnel who have specialist and other skills, but who do not require the same level of annual military training.
“This is really about changing the Reserve model to better match the 21st Century needs of our Defence Force,” he says. “Current Territorial Force members who are not in the Active Component, will be retained in the Standby Reserve, ensuring overall numbers of Army Reserves are similar to what we have today. The significant change is in how we target training to the Active Component.”
The Defence Force is also changing the organisational lines of units, but keeping Reserves in provincial locations.
By the end of the year, we will have consolidated the Headquarters components of our Army Reserves into three regional units, with affiliation to our regular force operational units,” he says.
“However, the important historical and representational links, and the ability to provide local assistance, particularly disaster relief, will be maintained with the plan to retain Reserve elements in provincial locations.”
Rear Admiral Steer says the New Zealand Defence Force is not creating a ‘high readiness’ Reserve Force to replace Regular Force soldiers, as had been suggested by some media. The idea of creating a high readiness Reserve was mooted in an independent report prepared as part of the 2010 Defence White Paper process.
“It was considered but has not been taken up as the option the New Zealand Defence Force is pursuing,” he says.