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NZDF Headquarters Restructuring Required

A radical slimming down of the “top-heavy” New Zealand Defence Force Headquarters in Wellington, starting with the transfer of the individual service chiefs from Defence Headquarters to their principal camps or bases, is recommended by the majority on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee.

In other recommendations aimed at a more effective, streamlined command structure, the majority proposes measures to get service personnel out from behind desks and into operational jobs.

“Uniformed personnel belong in ships, in the field and in aircraft, not behind desks,´ the committee says in its final report on “Defence Beyond 2000,” noting that over one-third of all the 232 NZDF officer positions of commander/lieutenant-colonel/wing commander rank and above were in Wellington. Only a small minority were in operational posts.

The majority said that the present structure of three separate services to reproduce in triplicate, with minor variations, policies promulgated by the Chief of Defence Staff had led to three bureaucracies, each headed by a Chief of Staff. Their present leadership roles were clear “but their operational command responsibilities in relation to their superior officer, the Chief of Defence Staff, and to the three operational commanders below them are ill-defined.

“The situation would be clarified if the three Chiefs of Staff were located at the principal training and support camp (or base) for each of the three services, directly responsible to the CDF for the training of their forces and infrastructural support, but without responsibility for command of operational forces. The appropriate rank would be commodore/brigadier/air commodore.”

As a further reform, it proposed that the three separate Maritime, Land and Air Commands should be merged into one joint operational headquarters under a joint operational commander, one rank higher than a force Chief of Staff, responsible to the CDF.

The majority said it believed consolidation of CDF’s staff and the three service staffs into one Joint Staff Headquarters together with substantial rationalisation and transfer of their responsibilities to the Ministry of Defence would bring economies and efficiencies.

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