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Glowing audit report on East Timor deployment

15 November 2001 Media Statement

Glowing audit report on East Timor deployment


The professional manner in which the New Zealand Defence Force responded to the East Timor crisis has been rightly acknowledged in an audit report, the Minister of Defence Mark Burton said.

A report by the Controller and Auditor-General into the NZDF deployment to East Timor has been tabled in parliament today.

"In September 1999, NZDF personnel were deployed to East Timor to restore peace and security, as part of a multi-national force sanctioned by the United Nations.

"This was the largest deployment of New Zealand military personnel for more than 40 years," Mark Burton said. "It was carried out under significant time pressure and required close cooperation between the Navy, Army and Air Force.

"As the Auditor-General notes, mounting the East Timor operation put the NZDF's military capability to the test – and the successful deployment demonstrated the ability of the NZDF to work collectively in support of a common goal.

"The report finds that:
- The planning for a possible military operation was intense, flexible, and responsive.
- The required military force was assembled and deployed within the times set by the government.
- The force was successfully positioned within the United Nations Multinational Force.
- All three services performed the required tasks with a large degree of success under the pressure of tight timetables, in a constantly changing environment and often with limited resources.

"As could be expected, the Auditor-General has recommended some improvements to planning and operational systems.

"But he notes that two of the most important changes have already been made. One is the formation in July this year of a Joint Force Headquarters, to give a clearer focus to planning, the assessment of force preparedness, training, continuous improvement and military operations.


"The second change is reflected in this government's political commitment to a long-term capital expenditure programme.

"The East Timor deployment highlighted "mission-critical equipment deficiencies" which posed a "significant capability risk" to the NZDF.

"After a decade of neglect, this government is ensuring that our defence force personnel get the modern equipment they need.

"Considering the shortfall in military capability that the NZDF faced in September 1999, every serviceman and woman involved with New Zealand's commitment in East Timor can be justifiably proud of their efforts," Mark Burton said.


ENDS

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