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New Zealand's role in the global Defence community

Hon Mark Burton: New Zealand's role in the global Defence community: RSA National Council meeting

New Zealand's role in the global Defence community: RSA National Council meeting

Clearly, the security of both New Zealand and our region-particularly in today's global environment-must actively involve more agencies than just Defence.

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Outgoing President David Cox, incoming President John Campbell, Chief Executive Pat Herbert, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen-good morning.

It's a pleasure to be with you again this year at your National Council meeting, to discuss New Zealand's role as part of the international Defence community.

I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge Dave's fine leadership over these past years, as well as the excellent work of Colin Topp and the Executive Members.

John, congratulations on your new role. I look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with you on behalf of your membership.

Singapore

I have just returned from a six-day trip to Singapore, where I attended the International Institute of Strategic Studies Asia Security Conference (IISS), a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Ministerial meeting, and had an official bilateral visit with the Singaporean Minister of Defence.

Singapore is one of New Zealand's most important regional Defence partners. We have long had a high tempo of bilateral visits between our two countries, and our respective Defence Forces frequently take part in joint military exercises.

As I am sure you are aware, our Defence relationship is underpinned by the Five Powers Defence Arrangement, which also includes Australia, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Since its beginnings in 1971, the FPDA has made a significant contribution to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

Today, it continues to evolve to meet the challenges posed by the current global security environment.

The Asia-Pacific security environment certainly is changing rapidly.

At IISS, there was strong emphasis on the increasing need to focus on non-conventional threats: terrorism, maritime and border security, people and drug smuggling, and money laundering.

Only last week, the biggest methamphetamine lab in the Southern Hemisphere was discovered in Fiji-right in our backyard. This truly brought home the fact that distance on its own no longer affords protection from destabilising elements. Clearly, the security of both New Zealand and our region-particularly in today's global environment-must actively involve more agencies than just Defence.

It is dependent on gathering and sharing intelligence efficiently with our defence partners, as well as on clear communication and cooperation across a wide range of non-military agencies.

Multi-agency Budget Support

Budget 2004 allocates significant funding for this multi-agency approach to security.

Police funding of $70.2 million over four years to strengthen national security capability is one excellent example. This includes $39 million to crack down on organised crime and methamphetamine producers, and $14.8 million to form dedicated national security teams.

Budget 2004 also includes $5 million of Customs funding, to enable closer scrutiny of arriving commercial ships, crews, and air passengers. This package includes a new Passenger Analysis Unit that will analyse advanced passenger information received from airlines. This unit will enable Customs to identify people that could indicate risks to New Zealand, such as drug smuggling. Work on further security projects is ongoing.

And of course, I am particularly proud of our ongoing direct investments in NZDF personnel. Budget 2004 allocates $20 million a year for their fourth pay rise in as many years, with an additional $16 million a year to develop and maintain effective manning levels in the Air Force.

Project Protector: a multi-agency acquisition process

This multi-agency approach to security is well illustrated by Project Protector, the $500 million investment which will provide the Navy with new purpose-built ships, including a new multi-role vessel to replace the ageing frigate Canterbury, and off-shore and in-shore patrol vessels.

These ships will allow the Navy to patrol our EEZ more effectively, working in partnership with other agencies, in their task of protecting our borders-one of the most important security roles in today's global environment-as well as undertaking tactical sealift and disaster relief in the Pacific, and fisheries protection.

When Defence was defining the Navy's new fleet requirements, it worked actively with a number of other agencies to find out what they needed for surface patrol of New Zealand's EEZ.

Consultations were held with MFAT, the Ministry of Fisheries, Customs, Treasury, the Maritime Safety Authority, and the Police, among others.

As a result of these consultations, our $500 million Defence investment in Project Protector will enhance not only New Zealand's military security, but also the security of our borders, our fisheries, our biosecurity, and a host of other areas. In turn, it also greatly enhances our ability to provide support and assistance to our Pacific neighbours in times of civil emergency and natural disaster, thus increasing our ability to contribute to the safety and security of our region.

Of course this multi-agency approach is not a revelation to any of us, but Projector Protector shows clearly how Defence, when appropriately planned in concert with other agencies, fits into a larger framework-an idea which is clearly reflected in our role in global defence.

IISS and FPDA

You may be interested to know that, alongside the formal IISS programme, I had a series of successful bilateral meetings, including:

· Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence · Senator Robert Hill, Australian Minister of Defence · Dato Sri Mohd Najib, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence · Dr Tony Tan, Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister of Security and Defence · Rt Hon Adam Ingram, UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces · Gen (Chetta) Thanajaro, Thai Minister of Defence, and · Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, Chief of Defence, Timor Leste.

All of these meetings reinforced the need for a multi-agency/multi-national cooperative approach to security.

Following the IISS conference, a meeting of the Ministers of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement was held. FPDA further illustrated the need for the entire region to give even greater focus to non-conventional threats to our security.

As you may be aware, Ministers from all five nations agreed that, while our Defence arrangements are still very relevant today, it was time for the FPDA to further adapt to the new challenges we all face in today's environment.

As a result, we agreed to incorporate non-conventional threat scenarios into scheduled FPDA exercises, including maritime security, the protection of international shipping lanes, and increased illegal activities in the maritime environment.

We also agreed to incorporate non-conventional threat scenarios into the FPDA exercise programme that may eventually include participation by non-military agencies, and to engage in regular intelligence exchanges on terrorism and other security issues.

These moves place more emphasis on the use of assets and capabilities with which the NZDF already has proven competence.

For example, their recent contribution to the Maritime Interdiction Operation in the Arabian Sea region has given the crews of both our P3 Orions and our frigates considerable experience in maritime security issues.

Our personnel were widely praised, both by the Chief of Defence Force and by our partners in the Task Group. The P3 detachment executed an outstanding 98 percent of their missions-the highest rate in the MIO.

The NZDF was also commended for the innovative-and to borrow broadcaster Ewat Barnsley's excellent description-'number 8 silicone coated fencing wire' solutions created in the field by our maintenance and support personnel.

Our personnel have been praised directly for their professionalism and expertise at the highest levels of the Task Force, particularly for their technical skills, dynamic approach to operations, and commitment to working effectively with their Task Force partners-all attributes which will stand them in good stead as we extend the scope of our FPDA exercises.

Current deployments

And what about NZDF's current deployment situation?

Right now, you might be surprised to know that we have over 500 Service men and women in 12 countries around the world.

You might also be surprised to know that our sustained level of commitment makes New Zealand number one in participation in international peacekeeping missions on a per capita basis.

For a country of barely four million, I think that is impressive, to say the least.

Our operational tempo is the highest it's been in a generation.

Around the world, our personnel are making a very real impact on the lives of the local people and communities they engage with-working in environments that can be physically very difficult, and often dangerous.

Ira

qIn Iraq, our 61-strong group of engineers are making an extraordinary contribution in their humanitarian relief and reconstruction role.

Since the beginning of their deployment last September, they have completed over 40 projects, including the construction of a 6 km domestic water pipeline, bridge repair and maintenance, and refurbishing schools.

They have also constructed a reverse osmosis water plant, which is bringing clean water to 200,000 people for the first time in a generation.

Solomon Islands

Since July 2003, New Zealand has been working together with other Pacific nations to restore security for one of our closest neighbours.

And, after three years of serious law and order breakdown, combined with rapidly declining economic conditions, real progress has been made in helping Solomon Islands get on the road to stability.

Police have done an outstanding job in removing weapons from criminal elements and gangs, and in removing corrupt elements from the Solomon Islands' Police Force. Our defence personnel have played a key role in supporting the Police, in establishing a more secure environment, and in facilitating civil and humanitarian assistance.

The NZDF have provided helicopter transport, engineers for refurbishment of facilities, and medical staff for community level medical support.

Police operations can increasingly be undertaken without military support, which is quite an achievement in less than a year. Next month, I hope to travel with my Australian counterpart to the Solomon Islands, to mark the achievements of this year-long, cooperative multi-national Pacific support mission.

Up to 120 NZDF personnel will remain with the multi-national mission until the end of July, after which time we expect a significant further scale down in the mission's military component.

Attention is now on the long haul task of supporting the Solomon Islands' government in building the key elements of civil society as they restore infrastructure and key services, including the health system, banking and financial institutions, and schools.

Solomon Islands continues to be our largest aid partner, and our aim is to continue long-term projects which will make a difference for the future.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the approximately 90 personnel who make up our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) are working very effectively to assist the Afghan government to extend its influence beyond Kabul.

After overcoming the inevitable initial challenges inherent in deploying to such a difficult environment, our PRT has become the model for other nations as they undertake the task of establishing PRTs across Afghanistan.

Our personnel continue to build local confidence through their contact with community leaders, gathering information about their reconstruction needs, and providing an opportunity to air any concerns.

Perhaps one of their most important contributions has been managing the rebuilding of Bamiyan's only university-a major step forward in the country's reconstruction and recovery.

The university was previously taken over as a Taliban headquarters, and was destroyed in 2001.

As the only university in the Central Highlands region, its reopening will have a long-term impact on the stability and future growth of the region. Focus is on two main streams - agriculture and education.

Bamiyan University also places a strong emphasis on education for women, and their goal is to have 50 percent female students across both areas.

PRT personnel worked closely with New Zealand AID on this project. It fits well with NZAID's commitment to improving access to education, and to ensure that women-the group who perhaps suffered the most human rights abuses under Afghanistan's former regime-have equal access to education.

These projects are another excellent illustration of how our military personnel work with other agencies to meet New Zealand's wider objectives. They also clearly point to the need for our forces to be well trained and equipped, with a wide range of combat and peacekeeping skills.

Defence Policy

When this government took office in 1999, we made our Defence goals and priorities very clear.

In June 2000, we released the Defence Policy Framework, which built on Defence Beyond 2000, a document that was released in 1999 by Parliament's Foreign Affairs Defence, and Trade Select Committee.

Our policy clearly defines the key elements of our approach to defence. One of these elements is that Defence is one aspect-albeit a critical one-of New Zealand's foreign and security policy.

I'd like to quote from the Framework. "Defence policy and foreign policy are a partnership, aimed at securing New Zealand's physical, economic, social, and cultural well being, and meeting our regional and global responsibilities."

Both in New Zealand and internationally, we continue to work to promote a comprehensive approach to security, of which Defence remains a critical part.

But as a nation of four million-roughly the size of Sydney-we cannot be all things to all people. We have to maximise our strengths, directing our resources to those areas in which we excel, and where we can make a real contribution to international deployments.

The key components of today's NZDF are:

· A joint approach to operations and structure across all three Services · A modernized Army · A practical and updated Navy fleet · A refocused and updated Air Force, and · Funding commitment to provide financial certainly in the long-term. We are committed to building a modern, professional, well-equipped Defence Force that is sustainable, affordable, and appropriate to New Zealand's Defence requirements-well trained and equipped for both peacekeeping and combat.

In June 2002, we released the Defence Long-Term Development Plan (LTDP)-a document of which I am sure many of you are aware. The LTDP outlined the acquisitions necessary to achieve this goal, established their priority, and allocated $3 billion over ten years to make it happen-across all three services.

LTDP projects

Since releasing the Long-Term Development Plan in 2002, we have upgraded the runway at Ohakea Air Base and replaced both of the Air Force's aged 727s with 757-200 jet aircraft.

We have also announced a major 15-year life extending upgrade of New Zealand's five C-130Hs (the workhorse of the RNZAF), a project to replace the Iroquois utility helicopter and the Sioux training helicopter, and the tenders for both the Mission Systems upgrade and the Communications and Navigation Systems upgrade on our P-3 Orion fleet-projects which are worth approximately $1 billion to the Air Force alone.

We are also in the final stages of contract negotiations for Project Protector, the $500 million Naval fleet project I outlined earlier.

In 2000, one of our first decisions was funding of $120 million for the purchase of new Tactical and Mobile Communications Systems (TMCS) equipment for our Army and Air Force, replacing their unreliable Vietnam-era communications systems.

Likewise, we are currently replacing the Army's 1960s M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers with new Light Armoured Vehicles (the "LAVs" which you will, I am sure, already heard of).

The NZLAV is a 21st century vehicle that offers the high level of mobility, protection, flexibility, and capability our Army needs to deploy effectively.

Other purchases include:

· A new fleet of Light Operational Vehicles to replace the Army's ageing fleet of Landrovers, the first of which are scheduled to arrive in August · Direct Fire Support Weapon area capability · Medium Range Anti-Armour capabilities, and · An identification, alerting, and cueing system that will complete the Army's very low-level air defence capability for deployed land force elements.

This brings our total investment in the Army close to $1 billion.

Defence spending levels and sovereignty

Of course, there are those who will say that this government's defence spending is too low, and that we should keep up with nations many, many times our size.

(Oddly enough, they tend to be from the party who ran the NZDF into the ground in the 1990s.)

There are also those who think that, for a country like New Zealand, $3 billion of capital expenditure over 10 years on a Defence Force is an obscene amount of money better directed elsewhere.

But it seems to me that neither of these is a practical view.

We are a sovereign nation. We must chart our own course. I believe we have developed a thorough, realistic, modern defence policy-one that reflects New Zealand's place in today's world.

We have put in place a workable plan to achieve our Defence goals and uphold our commitment as a responsible international citizen. New equipment also means a direct investment in the improved safety of our personnel, bringing their protection and mobility in line with 21st century technology.

Personnel overseas

In my four and a half years as Defence Minister, I have visited our personnel on the ground in such places as Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

I have seen the respect that other forces have for New Zealand's Service men and women-for their calm, efficient, cooperative style and their ability to work alongside colleagues from many nations and cultures.

We all know that the work of the NZDF often takes place in dangerous environments.

In places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, our defence personnel work in extremely demanding physical conditions. They willingly leave behind families and friends to help bring peace and stability to people they have never met, in places they might otherwise never have heard of.

I have often said that the NZDF's greatest asset is its world-class personnel.

But, just like conventional deployments, effective peace support operations require well-trained, combat-capable troops, and I am proud of this government's ongoing investment in the NZDF.

In today's global environment, it is essential that the men and women of the NZDF continue to train, equip, and prepare for deployment as they always have, even while hoping that the need to engage in conflict will not arise.

So Defence is a key facet of our international security and foreign relations, and we will continue to strengthen the whole of government approach to the defence of New Zealand.

We continue to work together across the broad range of agencies that are addressing issues of our nation's security, and on our international relationships, on a daily basis.

The work of the NZDF is a major contribution to that security, and will continue to be so in the years to come.

Conclusion

In thanking you again for the invitation to join you today, to discuss New Zealand's role in the international Defence community, I want to close by saying this.

Just as I know and respect the extensive (and often unsung) work of the Royal NZRSA all around our country, I have in my time as Minister of Defence come to know the fine men and women who are our Defence Force.

They are skilled and highly able professionals, well versed in, and well respected for, their military capabilities and their genuine care and respect for the communities in which they are deployed.

I am proud indeed of their work for and on behalf of our country.

Thank you.

ENDS

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