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Respect Views of Retired Defence Officials

1 July 2002

Defence Lobby Group Calls for Respect for the Views of Retired Defence Officials

The Green Paper on defence released by six of New Zealand's most respected former senior officers and officials "deserves respect" said defence lobby group spokesman David Dickens.

The issues these former officials raise "are to important to be left to politicians" said Dickens.

Dickens said the records of these retired officers and officials are remarkable. "These people speak from experience, whether we may agree with them is not the issue, the issue is that they have decided to speak and have important things to say" said Dickens.

Dickens said that the group of six, dismissed in the past by some politicians as geriatric generals deserved better "not the least because rehashing one of David Lange's old putdowns is neither original or clever second time around".

Dickens described the group of six as "Outstanding New Zealanders".

The group includes Air Marshal Sir Richard Bolt who as a decorated young pilot "flew pathfinders with Bomber Command during the Second World War" said Dickens. "Bomber Command suffered the highest casualties of any major formation in any war that New Zealand has participated in". "Over 50 percent of Bomber Command crews were killed" said Dickens.

Air Vice Marshal Robyn Klitscher as a young pilot was decorated in Vietnam flying very close air support sorties for soldiers on the ground who needed fire support. "When he retired three years ago he was the most decorated serviceman still serving though he is to modest to say so" said Dickens.

As Chief of Defence Force Vice Admiral Sir Somerford Teagle did much of the practical force structure and capability planning that would lay the foundation for ensuring that New Zealand's under resourced defence force had the flexibility to respond credibly during the East Timor crisis.

Dennis McLean and Gerald Hensley, in addition to their experience as diplomats of some note, probably have more exposure as Secretaries of Defence to the realities of regional security than perhaps any living New Zealanders.

"Between them this group of New Zealders have hundreds of years of experience as serviceman, diplomats, and senior policy makers" said Dickens who added that he hoped their "views would be treated with dignity this time around".

For further comment ring David Dickens by phone at 04 475 4117

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