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Radical Option Abandons Closest Allies

The next two months could see the most radical restructuring of our defence force since the end of World War Two, National Defence spokesperson Dr Wayne Mapp said today.

"The Prime Minister's predilections are causing shivers of alarm among our defence forces. Helen Clark apparently favours the radical option of a secret Treasury paper currently circulating in the higher echelons of government.

"The secret agenda involves disbanding our air combat force, reducing or eliminating the Orions, selling the 'Charles Upham,' not replacing the frigate 'Canterbury,' and closing the Whenuapai air base.

"This radical option will see our defence force consist of the army, an air force with only transport capability - resembling Air New Zealand in drag, and a navy of two frigates that is widely acknowledged as unsustainable.

"A defence force suited only for United Nations peacekeeping operations is one that Helen Clark has favoured since her radical student days in the '70s. Her argument about not needing a strike force simply because it hasn't been used as such is no justification. The role of deterrence is just as important as actually using capability.

"Whatever the degree of radicalism, the Labour-Alliance Government seems quite content to expect Australia to cover all the regional security and surveillance obligations. That is the bludgers' option and that is why Australia again expressed its deep concern over New Zealand's defence direction when the review of the air force's Orion maritime surveillance aircraft was announced. "The defence force is not Helen Clark's plaything. She has no mandate to radically strip out capabilities and abandon our closest allies. We can not expect that Australia and the US will simply turn a blind eye. Ultimately, it's New Zealand that will suffer," Dr Mapp said.


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