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Defence Force best equipped its ever been

3 September 2008

Defence Force best equipped its ever been, making good progress on recruitment, retention -Goff

The total number of personnel in the New Zealand Defence Force has increased to its highest level in seven years, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

"The Defence Force has also moved from having obsolete equipment to acquiring state of the art equipment in areas such as Light Armoured Vehicles and Light Operational Vehicles for the Army and a new helicopter fleet for the Air Force," Phil Goff said.

"Defence Forces worldwide face a major challenge to attract and retain staff, and New Zealand, which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, is no different.

"But as stated in the New Zealand Defence Forces Annual Report 2008 there are 13,889 Regular Force, Reservist and Civilian personnel within the NZDF. Since July of this year, a further 90 have been added. This represents the highest number of personnel since 2001 and an increase of more than 1000 additional personnel since 2004.

"The NZDF has actively and successfully recruited, not just to maintain numbers but to rebuild and grow the Defence Force.

"This has been possible because since 2005, the Government has committed $4.6 billion of operational funding to develop capability within the New Zealand Defence Force.

"As a result of this funding and following a remuneration review undertaken by Defence, an extra $73 million will be spent on pay and conditions for service personnel this year alone. This means personnel will gain an average pay increase of 10-12 per cent.

"Recruiting and retaining key personnel in certain trades remains a critical issue facing the Navy in particular. The Navy's Strategic Plan identifies 2014 as the target year for fully manning its establishment," Phil Goff said.

"This government has also injected $4 billion of capital into the Defence Force since 2002 to replace outdated equipment across the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. The Defence Force is now the best equipped it has ever been."

Equipment projects include:

Boeing 727 Replacement Medium Range Anti-Armour Weapon Very Low Level Air Defence System Light Operational Vehicle Multi Role Vessel (MRV) Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) Boeing 757 Modification Patrol Vessels Special Operations Capability P-3 Mission Management, Communication, and Navigation Systems Upgrades C-130 Life Extension Medium Utility Helicopter Capability Training/Light Utility Helicopter Capability Advanced Pilot Training Capability (B200 Replacement) ANZAC Class Platform Systems Upgrade Joint Command and Control System.

"The New Zealand Defence Force operates at a high tempo, with over 400 personnel overseas at any one time on peacekeeping missions," Phil Goff said.

"The New Zealand Defence Force requires modern and effective equipment and sufficient well-trained and professional staff to carry out these functions.

"Over the past eight years this government has committed long term funding of more than $8 billion to the Defence Force so that it can operate as a modernised, agile, well-equipped and sustainable Defence Force," Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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