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Dr Joel Hayward on the new Chief of Defence Force

Dr Joel Hayward, Massey University defence analyst, comments positively on the appointment of Air Commodore Bruce Ferguson as the new Chief of Defence Force

The decision to appoint former helicopter pilot Air Commodore Bruce Ferguson as Chief of Defence Force is surprising, given his relatively low profile, but very sensible indeed. Dr Joel Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies at Massey University. says Air Commodore Ferguson is known for his conciliatory manner and ability to bring people together. This quality is sorely needed in the climate of dysfunctionality that reportedly pervades the upper echelons of the Defence Force.

The previous Chief of Defence Force is a fine fellow with a distinguished service record. Yet he was not as successful as he should have been at getting the three armed services functioning in a spirit of jointness and harmonious co-operation. The CDF commented recently that he had never seen so much disharmony in the services, yet failed to draw the obvious conclusion that the buck stopped with him. He should have gone all-out, almost on a mission, to knock some sense into his squabbling subordinates. He never did this.

Dr Hayward believe that Air Commodore Ferguson, a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies in England, will take a firm stance on the issue of inter-service rivalry, and will stamp it out wherever it raises its ugly head. The New Zealand Defence Force is simply too small to allow jealousies and rivalries to interfere with the effective planning and conduct of operations. The recent formation of an operational Joint Force Headquarters was a fine first step. Today's announcement that Air Commodore Ferguson will be promoted to Air Marshal and Chief of Defence Force is a splendid follow-on step.

It seems Mr Ferguson's task will be easier now, given the appointment of Air Commodore John Hamilton as the new Chief of Air Staff and Brigadier Jerry Mateparae as the new Army Chief of General Staff. Promoted to Air Vice Marshal and Major General respectively, these men have earned solid reputations as collegial team-players. --

Dr Joel Hayward,
Senior Lecturer and
Programme Coordinator
Email: J.S.Hayward@massey.ac.nz

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