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"Laserforce" Army Training Ludicrous

Media Release

12 August 1999


New Zealand First Defence Spokesperson, Major (rtd) Ron Mark, has condemned the banning of live-fire training exercises as a "gigantic leap backwards" for our Army.

Mr Mark was responding to an Army decision to stop using live ammunition during training exercises, and replacing it with electronic simulator packs.

"Playing laser-strike and space invaders does not condition troops for war", said Mr Mark.

"In no way does this simulate the dangers of carrying a loaded weapon. Nor does it teach our soldiers how to run, duck, weave, and engage using live ammunition in a combat situation. It comes down to a soldier's ability to operate effectively under fire.

"We cannot have troops who are so ill-trained that the first time they experience carrying live ammunition is when they are sent into action.

"This does nothing for soldiers' combat ability and will cost lives", said Mr Mark.

"Junior commanders and NCOs are right to worry about the safety and preparedness of their soldiers. There is no substitute for live-fire training.

"No amount of academic rationalisation by the General - who lives in Wellington - will ever change that. If Major-General Dodson feels he needs to have the need for live-fire training explained to him, then he is clearly unsuited to be Chief of Army General Staff.

"War is an ugly business. It takes no notice of Occupational Safety and Health regulations. Men need to train accordingly."


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