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Scoop Feedback: Congratulations And Defence Policy

In this edition of Scoop Feedback: Congratulations On Coverage - Mark Burton The Bogus Bogey - Capt'n Pugwash And His Navy

Congratulations On Coverage

Dear Sir,

Congratulations on coverage of the fallout of the 11 September disaster 11 and the excellent series on Afghanistan and Bin Laden. I did think that Mark Steyn was too tough on our Prime Minister, Helen Clark, as she did not say that we were withdrawing from ANZUS entirely and merely reflected on the fact that we have been shut out since the Nuclear Free legislation was enacted and this prevented visits by the US Navy because of their policy of neither confirming or denying if the ships have nuclear arms. Whilst I personally thought that going nuclear free was not a smart move , I have now been joined by a prominent ex Labour Party politician who spoke passionately in support of the legislation at the time but is now firmly in the other camp!

The reality is that we have offered the SAS but we have little else because our Army is fully involved, if not over extended in East Timor. In addition, we did support the US in Vietnam at the cost of 35 regular soldiers killed and we were involved in the Gulf War with Navy and Air assets. More recently, we had an SAS Major accidentally killed by a USAF bomb whilst on an exercise in the Gulf. We also have many mid grade officers on UN duty in various trouble spots.

The problem is for New Zealand is that have a population the size of Melbourne spread unevenly over 1200 Km, the coastline is longer than that of the US and we have a resource rich 200 EEZ to oversee. The result is that we cannot afford a three Service, fully equipped Defence Force like our Trans Tasman brothers. Further, we have an Arc of Instability to our north in the form of a number of Pacific Islands many of which suffer low level civil insurrection and it will take much of our defence resource to keep peace in the Islands.

I would have thought it was time that the US got over the nuclear ships visits issue and restored normal relations with New Zealand, currently we seem to rate below the many of the African countries.

David Moloney
Wellington
New Zealand

******

Mark Burton The Bogus Bogey

Dear Editor,

Mark Burton describes opposition reation to airforce announcements as bogus. Is that so.

Perhaps Mr Burton would like to inform the public as to how many of the 1,270 personnel he maintains National put to the scrap heap in the period 1990 to 2000 were non-combative, non-essential air force personnel.

From the figures he has given there were 4,155 people in the Air force in 1990 and 2,885 in 2000. That is a loss of a mere 1,270 over 10 years or 127 a year.

As for the 3,400 shrinkage of total Defence Force personnel, that leaves only 2,130 to be set against the Army and Navy, or 213 per year.

During that time the Navy obtained two new Frigates whose complement requirements are significantly lower than the ones they replaced. The Navy has also lost the Charles Upham. The Navy shipyard was also handed over to private enterprise.

As for the Army, we have not been able to maintain the levels required for years, not due to any political skulduggery, but because it was and is not a particularly attractive career option these days.

Perhaps Mr Burton may like to advise the public just how many Defence Force personnel have left since 2000 as a result of this governments ill-advised defence review and the closure of the various defence establishments.

Regards

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington

******

Capt'n Pugwash And His Navy

Dear Editor,

How pleasing to read over the weekend that despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister and her Government, we still seem to have the where-with-all to despatch yet another vessel to the Solomon Islands for service with the International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT).

BUT WAIT, what is this? The vessel we are sendijng to replace the Royal Australian Navy's Frigate HMAS Canberra (some 3,000 tonnes and 280 crew) is the HMNZS Manawanui. A diving support ship of 911 tonnes, a complement of 28 and no armament.

According to the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, the Manawanui's deployment "provides security and reassurance to all involved in achieving the outcomes of the Townsville Peace Agreement".

HUH.

The security and reassurance this vessel (which is hardly bigger than a liberty-boat carried by a Frigate) will offer, is likely to be about as much as the aluminium support craft she is taking over with her. What is she going to do, catch Taleban frogmen

First the Prime Minister and her Cabinet disband the Airforce strike-wing. Now the best naval support we can offer is a clapped out 20 or more year old diving support ship.

The great New Zealand defence joke just seems to get better and better.

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington

ENDS

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