New Zealand must revisit its military profile

As the National Party government in New Zealand is looking for a strategic vision for the New Zealand Defence Force, it should take into account the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ (RMA) in the policy-making process.

Neither the ‘New Zealand Defence Capability Plan’ (October 2011) nor the ‘New Zealand Defence White Paper’ (November 2010) mentioned anything concrete on the need to have a revised Revolution in Military Affairs.

New Zealand has a modest army and therefore should invent ideas and regular exercises, either on its own or jointly with the forces of other countries.

RMA is about finding ways to increasing effectiveness and decreasing casualties. Some of the advantages that could accrue are a dominant precision strike, situational awareness created by the fusion of information gathering and processing technologies, joint operations and focused logistics.

RMA synchronises intelligence, communications, command, control and better systems of weapons and their management.

In the recent past, the New Defence Force has fought mainly at unit and subunit level, which means it needs units that are modern and capable of striking effectively and efficiently when needed.

It must work in a combined environment with units from other services and with the defence forces of other friendly countries.

New Zealand is lucky in a sense; it needs to equip its armed forces only at unit level, unlike other large forces in India and China.

This country is mostly involved in peacekeeping operations and hence RMA assumes greater significance, with the infantry tapping air power for support and coordination. This is the area in which joint command is imperative.

RMA technologies will enhance the capabilities of the New Zealand Defence Force for non-combat search and rescue, protection and disaster relief capacities as well.

This is because information gathering and communications capacities will be greatly enhanced along with surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The capacity of infrared detection systems and night vision equipment has obvious utility across the span of non-combat support roles.

As formulated by the ‘New Zealand Defence Capability Plan 2011,’ it is assumed that the New Zealand Defence Force will have a Joint Amphibious Task Force targeting the South Pacific region in mind.

What is now required is the integration the Joint Amphibious Task Force with RMA.

Balaji Chandramohan is our Correspondent based in New Delhi, India.

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