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Defence Force Shambles

Defence Force Shambles

Revelations by the Defence Force that it is suffering from a critical shortfall in experienced staff are a matter of serious concern for New Zealand First defence spokesperson and former army officer Ron Mark MP.

“The staffing shortfalls are so critical in some areas that the Government was advised by the Defence Force that it may be put in a situation where it can either deploy on operations or train the next generation, rather than do both as it currently does,” said Mr Mark.

“These papers quite clearly show that whilst the attrition rates may well have been checked in part, our deficiencies are such that we will not be able to man the gold-plated fleet of light armoured vehicles, the light operational vehicles, the new B757s, the maritime patrol aircraft, let alone the new fleet of naval vessels.

“The highly skilled mechanical engineers and electronic technicians who we need to maintain our defence forces are still being attracted away from the defence forces to the commercial sector because of differences in pay. The gravity of the situation is such that the Defence Force now admits that it is putting inexperienced staff into senior appointments requiring them to take responsibility beyond that which they have been trained with an overall impact on performance. The end result is burnout and stress.

“I believe that the ability to retain experienced and competent Defence Force personnel was seriously compromised by the Government’s lengthy delay in addressing the pay issue which I first raised in 1999. Since then the outflow of experienced people, and in particular technicians, has been so great that in the Defence Force’s own words ‘black holes’ have been created in their organisation.

“This is the kind of information which the Government should not be withholding from the New Zealand public in today’s climate. The Government needs to come clean and tell us what they are going to do to tackle this problem, “ said Mr Mark.

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