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Army Fighting Over Crumbs Under Nats

14 May 2002

The Carruthers' report makes it clear that the National Government's obsession with expensive high-tech equipment caused major tensions within the army, and between the army and other defence services, Keith Locke said.

The Green Party's Defence spokesperson said the report released today into a leaked letter and email showed the emphasis on buying expensive equipment for the air force had resulted in a "starvation" mentality in the army.

"Army factions ended up fighting over the crumbs," said Mr Locke. "The army can take some blame for having a dysfunctional purchasing system, which didn't enable the most open and rational debate.

"But the real problem was the pouring of money into the F16s and potentially the third frigate, despite the fact that those expensive weapons added little value to New Zealand's defence capability."

Mr Locke said scrapping the F16s and the Sky hawks had been a positive step towards creating a cheaper lower-tech peacekeeping force for New Zealand, and in eventually healing the rifts between defence services.

"The circumstances around the leaking of the Gordon letter show that the Government's actions in scrapping the F16s brought some of the deep-seated resentments to the surface.

"Hopefully, all our defence forces can put that behind them now, and find a way to work together instead of against each other."

Ends

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