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Army Too Stretched To Meet Sudden Large Emergency

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 10 NZPA - The army would be pushed to deal with a sudden and large emergency deployment, but overall New Zealand defence forces are better placed than they were least year.

Last year the 2007/2008 Defence Force annual report revealed the Royal New Zealand Navy was finding it difficult to sail, the Royal New Zealand Air Force to fly and the New Zealand Army would have struggled to take part in combat.

This year's report, tabled in Parliament today, paints a picture of defence forces far less hamstrung by a lack of staff and poor equipment.

The 2008/2009 report said due to the recession and new recruitment/retention strategies more people were coming into the forces and staying there, though experience levels in some areas remained low.

Last year the navy's frigates came no where near meeting their targets of days at sea. This year they achieved or bettered their targets.

The air force had also struggled to come close to flight hours and while it fell short in some areas, both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters spent more time in the air or ready for operation.

"However, the ongoing modernisation of a large number of aircraft created challenges in reaching targets for medium or higher threat military operations," the report said.

The army was stretched with ongoing deployments in Afghanistan. Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste and would not have enough resources to meet a full scale emergency elsewhere at short notice.

"These deployments in effect almost equated to a light infantry-sized battalion group. To surge to an infantry battalion group during the reporting period would have required the redeployment of resources from Timor-Leste and Afghanistan," the report said.

Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae said the modernisation of the force was continuing across all three services and while there still continued to be delays, there had been successes.

Since last year's report resources had been targeted to ensure the forces were ready for "plausible and more likely contingencies".

The priority remained on being fully ready for operations in the New Zealand and Pacific, he said.

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