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Cuts degrade Defence Force capability

Cuts degrade Defence Force capability

New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on international peace support operations are at the lowest level in 20 years, says Labour’s Defence Force Spokesperson Phil Goff.

“A key reason for this lies in the Defence Force’s admission today that personnel and skills shortages mean they would have difficulty in sustaining a deployment of more than 12 months.

“It’s an incredible admission by the Defence Force. Under the last Labour Government New Zealand sustained three major deployments in East Timor, The Solomons and Afghanistan. The deployments were simultaneous and lasted for over 22 rotations. Now National is admitting they would have trouble sustaining one deployment for more than two rotations or 12 months.

“It’s an indictment on the National Government for the damage it has done to the Defence Force. Morale plummeted with defence cuts and attrition rates reached as high as 24 percent in one year.

“What is particularly appalling is the disingenuous answers from the Minister that he didn’t know how long it took or what it cost to train new tradesmen to replace those who have left.

“Apprenticeships take at least four years to complete and the private sector conservatively estimates a cost of $75,000 to train a tradesperson. The minister won’t admit he knows this because it shows the loss of skilled personnel will take years and hundreds of millions of dollars before the damage to the Defence Force is repaired.

“In October last year Cabinet decided to actively pursue new peacekeeping deployments. The fact that nothing has happened since then reflects that one major obstacle is the Defence Force’s lack of capacity to sustain a deployment.”


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