No Minister

PEENI HENARE’S UNFORTUNATE CHOICE OF WORDS

with 28 comments

One suspects the Minister of Defence is regretting his choice of words when he described the extra money for Defence announced in the budget (spread over the next four years) as ‘keeping the lights on’. Rhetoric that doesn’t stand scrutiny. ‘Janes’ (the global agency for open-source defence intelligence) nails it when it pointed that the 4% increase needed to be measured against the backdrop of inflation running at double that. Their assessment has the annual growth in defence expenditure in negative territory. And all of this against the backdrop of China actively seeking to expand its influence in the South Pacific.

The acquisition of a Southern Oceans Patrol Vessel, a prominent item in the Defence Regeneration Plan, has been indefinitely deferred. There is no mention at all of any plan to replace our two aging combat ships. Instead Peeni has opted to inflict death by a thousand cuts to his portfolio and trumpted that as progress.

And then to cap it all off the news today that the RNZAF 757 airliner used to transport the PM on her current trip has broken down in Washington DC with the result that the PM will now have to return home on a commercial aircraft. A decision on whether to replace these two 30 YO aircraft has been deferred until 2026. For what it is worth and IMHO they add no great utility to the military. They can only go to where any other commercial aircraft can go … in short they are show pony aircraft … a champagne acquisition funded out of a beer budget with the money better spent on boosting our maritime capability.

I have no great truck with Ron (medals) Mark but at least he poured his heart and soul into securing the best possible deal for his portfolio …. Henare, not so much.

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Written by The Veteran

May 31, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Military, New Zealand

Tagged with ,

28 Responses

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  1. Sadly this is par for the course. I await the headline “Labour Reduces Defence Expenditure”, which is what this will do. ACT has nailed its Colours and we all look forward to National doing the same soon. A new VIP aircraft is justified but it should not be as part of the RNZAF budget. And surely it doesn’t need expensive armed services personnel to staff it!

    Cassandra

    May 31, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    • Pse explain just why we need a VIP aircraft when you can just as easily block book front end seating on a commercial airliner for VIP travel. I have traveled on a VIP aircraft … ten people on a plane that could carry over a hundred. Does not make sense.

      The Veteran

      May 31, 2022 at 5:05 pm

      • I guess it’s what’s expected these days. A bit like electorate cars for ministers. I have no strong feelings but both parties seem to do it. But I don’t want it to be a charge on Vote Defence.

        Cassandra

        May 31, 2022 at 5:31 pm

  2. The 757s are not actually VIP aircraft. The rationale for their acquisition was to provide strategic transport for large numbers of personnel, and to have a good medivac cability. The removeable medivac module is actually quite good.

    To some extent it is a case of ‘because they exist’ they will be used for status tasks. I agree that commercial travel makes much more sense for the likes of the GG, PM, Ministers, etc. (But, of course, with a commercial airliner you can’t get it to go where you want …and you can’t play around with the crew …)

    Another issue with these aircraft (as with the previous 727s) is thaat they are designed to be operated at high tempo – because to make money they must be used. Military tasking is not as intensive in ordinary peace-time situations so the aircraft do tend to break down because systems are not being kept ‘under pressure’.

    TonyB

    May 31, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    • Tony … many countries (the US incl) charter civilian ac to enhance their strategic lift capability. You make a fair point re medevac but I would argue that it is relevantly easy to design and fit a medevac module to the c130 fleet (existing and new). You point about commercial aircraft being designed for high tempo use is valid. Another reason not to have them as proven both with the 727 and 757 acquisitions (accepting too they were all second/third hand aircraft).

      The Veteran

      May 31, 2022 at 6:15 pm

  3. It’s an even more depressing attitude in light of the posts and debates we had from Udea Station about our Navy and Air combat capability. We really do seem to have sufficient numbers of people that are either pacifist or anti-military or anti-Aussie/USA or don’t give a shit that we’re just going to continue along these lines.

    What’s really depressing is that I’d bet successive governments will always be happy to have an Army that’s big enough to suppress any internal dissent that the Police can’t handle.

    Tom Hunter

    May 31, 2022 at 6:47 pm

  4. The 757 debate is a rabbit hole which diverts from the wider question … an underfunded NZDF going south at a rate of knots with the government impervious to the threat posed by China in the South Pacific.

    Wayne Mapp … time to step up.

    The Veteran

    May 31, 2022 at 9:12 pm

  5. Worst minister since Burton. Maybe even worse.

    We are haemorrhaging good people all over the show, most particularly the senior NCO / warrant officer and field ranking officers. A lot are going to much higher paid jobs in the ever-expanding public sector – for much less work. Leaving those idiots (like me) who are left to pick up ever bigger workloads. My pay hasn’t gone up a cent in years. No prospect of us ever getting any decent kit, no good trips, and an increasingly woke culture. The constant back-flipping and inconsistency about the vaccines is beyond a joke, and has destroyed what little trust remained in senior officers.

    Hon. Peeni Henare is not the only culprit. Current and previous CDFs have overseen an ever-growing HQ NZDF, filled with woke civilians who now have more power than the service chiefs. National ministers did little more than the bare minimum to keep NZDF afloat. There is no direction about future capabilities or structure, and certainly no desire to return to our core functions of fighting an actual war.

    I don’t see it getting better any time soon.

    Major Star

    May 31, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    • If the 2016 and 2018 Capability Plans are fully implemented, there would be a credible defence force. A bit less than what current circumstances require, but nevertheless quite good.

      So the Plans do exist, but it is not obvious that the current government is actually committed to implementing them, beyond what Ron Mark actually ordered.

      The Winter edition of Line of Defence will include my regular column setting out my views as to what a Defence Force with 2% of GDP as funding would actually look like. Basically it would be a bolstered up Defence Force from the present, but with no new significant capabilities.

      Basically six P8’s, seven C130’s, three new frigates, the project Protector fleet replaced with more capable vessels, and a 6,000 person Army, thereby guaranteeing a sustainably deployable Battalion Group. We did deploy a Battalion Group to East Timor, but it could only be sustained for two six month rotations.

      Wayne

      May 31, 2022 at 10:50 pm

      • Wayne … does your 6,000 strong army include reserves? If it doesn’t then you’re pushing it … we haven’t seen those numbers in my lifetime.

        The Veteran

        May 31, 2022 at 11:37 pm

      • Thanks Wayne, but what level of combat operations do you think a battalion group can reasonably fight at? At best, it might deploy with some howitzers and mortars (no more than a battery), a small detachment of engineers, and maybe a squadron of armour. Which does not add up to much at all, maybe some counter-insurgency warfare, but nothing useful in a peer-on-peer environment.

        Surely much more useful would be a multi-role combat brigade (modelled on the Australian formations), from which a government could expect either part of it to be able to deploy for 6-8 months at a time (ie, three battalion rotations to serve up to 24 months), or all of it for 8 months (ie, a fully equipped brigade, with enough artillery, engineers and armour to enable the infantry to fight properly).

        That doesn’t necessarily have to be bigger than a 6000 in total – maybe 3500 in the brigade itself, then 1000 in training command (full time instructors), leaving 1500 for medical, third-line logistics, HQ etc.

        Pay, conditions and training might have to be stepped up to be able to attract and retain the right people. I’d suggest OCS might need to be upgraded to a proper military academy, which could take on Air Force officer training as well for a better bang for buck.

        A brigade is far, far more capable than a battalion, due to the ability to mass fires and concentrate sizeable force. Our allies would barely appreciate a battalion, even in the South West Pacific.

        Major Star

        May 31, 2022 at 11:48 pm

      • Wayne even if they were implement NZDF wouldn’t be credible. It wouldn’t even be marking time. You did a lot of damage to NZDF when you were DEFMIN b your cost cutting ethos.

        Ngatimozart

        June 2, 2022 at 7:18 pm

      • @Major Star.

        “Surely much more useful would be a multi-role combat brigade (modelled on the Australian formations), from which a government could expect either part of it to be able to deploy for 6-8 months at a time (ie, three battalion rotations to serve up to 24 months), or all of it for 8 months (ie, a fully equipped brigade, with enough artillery, engineers and armour to enable the infantry to fight properly).”

        I have been looking at a different structure for the army because of its JATF role and now Indo-Pacific focus. A German colleague of mine posted on a place I frequent the structure for two of the Bundswehr parachute regiments and I thought that with a adaption that it could work for us. Their regiments are made up of companies and the number of companies in each regiment is flexible so that number could mission dependent. That way you would have for example:

        Staff, HQ, & Support Company.
        Reconnaissance Company.
        Mounted Rifles Company.
        Mounted Rifles Company.
        Mounted Rifles Company.
        Mounted Rifles Company.
        Fire Support Company. (Artillery)
        Air Defence Company.
        Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Company.
        Aviation Squadron.
        Logistics Company.
        Medical Company.
        Engineering Company.

        Two active regiments and a third for training and support. The whole lot could be mobile in wheeled 8×8 armoured vehicles and amphibious where possible.

        Ngatimozart

        June 2, 2022 at 8:20 pm

      • @NgatiMozart

        Those are workable structures for a battalion sized unit. Which is fine, but really, Australia has nine battalions (either armour or infantry) that they can deploy, offering up one bastardised NZ battalion might be better than nothing, but is is not much more than nothing.

        If we were able to offer up a Brigade, modelled off the Aus Army ‘Plan Beersheeba’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_Beersheba), we’d be bringing much more useful capability to the battlefield.

        As The Vet will surely agree with, you can’t win a war without the infantry seizing and holding terrain.

        And infantry can’t win without a decent amount of artillery, engineers, reconnaissance, signals and logistics. A brigade offers those supporting arms (as well as more infantry) to a far more effective degree than a battalion.

        NZ Army has the bones of a brigade, filling it out is far from a step too far. We already have two infantry battalions (in name), an armoured regiment and the rest, we just need to fill them out and to occasionally train as an entire brigade.

        Major Star

        June 2, 2022 at 9:20 pm

  6. 4 Frigates Mapp is not the answer if that is the question.

    He’s fighting yesterdays war, not the war that is happening in Ukraine.

    We cant afford them, cant get the staff to man them, cant afford the repair staff or a location to repair them.
    They can be blasted out of the water with a sub fired Harpoon.
    And we cant afford the necessary defense gear to keep them safe.
    Plus the bros who traditionally manned them are sitting on the sofa because of the woke policies of Mapp and co who are simply over paying them to sit on the couch.

    Its air power and drone power. Its airforce !! Its a drone force!!… Its a Harppon world out there.. its bang for the buck.

    Besides its not the Defence issue, its the big issue that the country is simply fucked. Refer Mike’s Minute along with other prominent people.

    Its 20 years of National and Labour not even dreaming small but allowing weekly samples of the unwashed to dictate their small minded policies.

    As GD says yose get wat you pay for!

    And for Major Star I would bail myself, Australia or Singapore could use your talents, dont sacrifice yourself for the small minded talent in the political circles…its at least a 10 year slog, unless China pushed the go button in which case the woke will be shitting themselves.

    rossco

    May 31, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    • Ok rossco a few things. The current war in Ukraine is predominately a land war. If you look at a map you will notice that there’s a hell of a lot of wobbly blue stuff around NZ; not solid green stuff. True there is the Black Sea and for Ukraine’s economic survival it is important, but it is not a large sea at all. We live in the world’s largest ocean. We require a strong maritime surveillance and combat force, but it doesn’t have to break the bank and yes we can do it four frigates and use corvettes instead of OPVs. It’s a matter of using our brains and laterally thinking. That’s all. ACT believe that we should buy the Australian Hunter Class frigates, but that’s hugely expensive and there are other ways of obtaining practically the same capability using a different hull, building elsewhere and fitting out here for example. Four P-8A Poseidons are definitely not enough and another two minimum should be acquired. Quantity has a quality of its own and a second tier airborne maritime surveillance capability is a necessity as well. This to should have sufficient numbers, not the absolute minimum that Wayne and his mates prefer.

      Next point Harpoon missiles are obsolete now and our two current Anzac Class frigates are quite capable of protecting themselves against them, since their latest upgrade. However the new modern antiship missiles present a more deadly threat because they are low observable, hypersonic, supersonic, or subsonic, intelligent, and able to fly within metres of the sea surface at high speed. NZ has to acquire antiship missiles and the two best suited for us are the AGM-158C LRASM and Kongsberg NSM (Naval Strike Missile). The LRASM has a 1,00olb warhead and is a derivative of the AGM-158B JASSM, whilst the NSM has a 125kg warhead. Both are low observable missiles and both can be air and ship launched.

      UAVs or drones are great as long as you are able to control them in real time. Against a foe like the CCP / PRC they may be more a hindrance than a help because the likes of the MQ-4C Tritons or MQ-9B SeaGuardians require satellite communications for real time command and control. We know that the PLA has a very active program and a strategy for space domain warfare and control, placing space based communications and navigational systems very much in doubt. So your drones aren’t much use to you then are they, because they’ll be sitting on the ground gathering dust. Do you install AI in them then and let AI make the decision to take human life? I for one am not comfortable with that. It raises a huge ethical question and dilemma. They aren’t all that cheap either. The airframe might be, but when you add in the ground stations there’s not much difference in cost. In fact a MQ-4C Triton all up is approximate the same as a P-8A Poseidon.

      All your post tells me is that you are not well informed about modern warfare, its multi domain approach, capabilities, and requirements. Nor are you really that well informed about the geography of Ukraine and its region, nor the conflict itself.

      Ngatimozart

      June 2, 2022 at 7:58 pm

      • Whoa sorry NM, didnt realise you were a blue water man. I’m more your objects with wings sorta guy.

        As for your Ukraine comments you may have noticed its being fought on the land, sea and air. You may well have noticed that Ukraine has no navy but has sunk 13 + Russian naval ships include big slow ones and small fast ones. You seem to have glossed over that or missed its implications all together.

        How long do you seriously think your 4 frigates are going to stand as ships before they turn into submarines against the PRC.

        Really. Its a big boys fight. The USN. They dont need our 4 frigates.

        If the PRC makes it through the USN we might as well hang out the white sheet. Either that, like Ukraine have our defence close inshore, and drone or missile based. Like Ukraine you make them pay when they get within range.

        As for the Harpoon comment, you took me far too literally. I have been in IT for most of my life, most things like Harpoons have a max life before they are exceeded by a technology shift, obviously…duh

        Ukaraine is a proxy war, every man and his dog is in there and you may have noticed small agile is beating big and slow, and poor design, and backward thinking.

        Also what is sauce for the gander… do you really think PRC is going to have unrestricted access to the airwaves and to space in a conflict….. I doubt it.

        Their drones will face the same environment as our drones. Perhaps we may have some innovative technology in our NZ built drones..we have the IT people.

        Perhaps we should let the private sector look after the drones, like in Ukraine, and let the trad services fight WW2 all over again.

        Perhaps we will build 3 or 4 purpose built drone carriers in our Whangerai (Naval) yards that will be able to launch and recover drones far out to sea.
        Perhaps we will build some native drones, wakadrones ?

        As I have said its bang for the buck , and we dont have the resources or the skills to run a 4 frigate navy that would be wiped out in 10 minutes in an unsupported environment againt the PRC.

        Sure we need fishery protection, sure we need humanitarian ships for the islands. Actually maybe not as they are going to the PRC any way.

        By the way refer to my comments about the last Pacific War, just to repeat. For NZ it was a air and land war.

        rossco

        June 2, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    • Bloody hell Rossco, you should have been in the comments section for Udea Station’s guest post, The Replacement of the RNZN Anzac Frigates..

      Tom Hunter

      June 2, 2022 at 8:52 pm

  7. Rossco … clearly you have no great conception of the military dynamic in ‘our’ region. I’m ‘brown’ but I can readily acknowledge that if we are to be seen as a serious player in the region then we need to project both naval and air-power. The army, for better or worse is never going to add much to that apart from disaster relief et al. It may have a part to play as making a contribution to multi-national responses as it has with regards to the Ukraine. Your fixation over Wayne Mapp is both unnecessary and boring. At least he pulled on the Queen’s uniform (have you?) and, as a Minister he acted within the constraints imposed by the GFC. Yes he could have done more but his comments suggest he accepts that. I have no great time for armchair warriors such as yourself. The reality is that since 2020 the military has gone backwards at a rate of knots.. Old saying … shoot where the ducks are.

    The Veteran

    May 31, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    • Yep Vet you armed forces guys are experts…. I think we were fighting WW1 for the first couple of years of WW2. Plus all the crap gear thats been bought over the years…. fills me with confidence.

      The local dynamic, Do you understand how we fought in WW2 in the Pacific ? With the airforce. Our army was in Europe as you would know. The Aussies used their army in the Pacific so I disagree with your assertion here too about not having an Army.

      It needs to be a different army though. High quality, small in numbers but using high end kit to kill stuff.

      Neither Ozzies or our Navy featured very much as the US Navy did the heavy work in WW2 in the Pacific.
      Even the UK naval contribution was small viz the US Navy in the Pacific. It will be the same in the next war.

      As for your brown comment, I dont understand it…….you are brown or something else is brown ?Same for the uniform comment…. irrelevant. I’m a taxpayer so my taxes count the same as yours.

      Dont you realise that the Ukrainian armed forces have been revolutionised by new thinking, and its kids flying drones, and well trained soldiers firing clever shit that sits on their shoulders.

      Oh and by the way we will never be seen as a serious player in the region, too small with a pop of 5m.

      Do you see Fiji as a serious player ? No , well thats how the world sees us.

      A small island nation at the arse end of the world having Polynesised itself, going no where fast!

      rossco

      May 31, 2022 at 10:48 pm

      • brown = army. Military term although I do confess to being a graduate from the RNZAF Command and Staff College. And you’re wrong about NZ Army involvement in the Pacific in WW2. Have you never heard of 3 NZ Division. Comprised three brigades plus support troops … undertook landings in the Solomon Islands and the Green Islands (located between Bougainville and New Ireland). Confirms your status as an armchair warrior (and one who doesn’t do his homework).

        The Veteran

        May 31, 2022 at 11:32 pm

      • I was speaking in general terms, and the vast bulk of the NZ division was fighting where..Italy 23,000 of them

        But your own comment seems to negate your own view. The army is still an important part of our combat future in my view.

        The navy with 4 frigates is not, at least not in that form.

        rossco

        May 31, 2022 at 11:43 pm

      • One of my uncles (Mum’s side) was in the 3rd NZ division and got shot up pretty bad by a Jap fighter bomber. Fucked his left foot and leg, with wounds elsewhere. Multiple surgeries that didn’t work. Became an alcoholic, never married, no kids and died in the early 80’s after spending most of the previous decade in a Hamilton East rest home with short-term memory gone.

        Hell of a waste of a very high IQ guy (according to my Mum and Dad).

        Tom Hunter

        May 31, 2022 at 11:47 pm

      • The Vet is correct about the role of the NZ Army in the Pacific.

        In fact the first overseas deployment of Kiwi troops during WW2 was in September 1939 to base a detachment on Fanning Island to secure the strategically important cable station to the West Coast of the United States.

        The RNZN also gave a very good account of itself during the Pacific. The minesweepers Matai, Tui, Moa and Kiwi were invaluable in clearing supply lines and supporting opposed landings of COMSOPAC in fact Tui famously sunk a Japanese sub. At the height of the Pacific War our three Cruisers (a class of large serious fighting ships) Leander, Archilles and Gambia each served supporting US Navy operations during the height of hostilities in the Western Pacific.

        Furthermore a capable high-end multi-role frigate with a capable Aegis CMS, modern decoy systems, electronic warfare capabilities, a reasonable load-out of area defence missiles and CIWS system has a pretty good chance of defeating an aging platform like Harpoon.

        Ueda Station

        May 31, 2022 at 11:50 pm

  8. There’ll be a lot of lessons from Ukraine which will help shape our future defence capabilities but the overriding one will be that in most respects we will not be going it alone. Whether it’s frigates or fighters or whatever will be dictated by reality, both that of our allies and changes in the way wars are fought. It was obvious when the Egyptians crossed the canal that armoured warfare had changed, although I note Australia is looking into a Leopard replacement. While we are all conditioned by experience, “Colonel Blimp fighting the last war” is a bit hackneyed. Whatever the planners and politicians come up with let’s hope it’s a realistic budget, unlike the current one. 2% will be a good start point. And I note that the PM flew to America commercial which kind of damages my advocacy of a VIP aircraft.

    Cassandra

    June 1, 2022 at 8:49 am

    • Only a small point, the PM returned (is to return?) from America on a commercial flight. Broomstick One was used to get her and a small army of hangers-on to the “active theatre”

      DavidW

      June 1, 2022 at 4:39 pm

      • According to my information she flew to America commercial – most of the hangers on flew in the RNZAF plane. Because of the breakdown they’re all coming home commercial, I suppose.

        Cassandra

        June 2, 2022 at 8:56 am

  9. Reading this thread, one is drawn to conclude you have a peeni-ante Defense Minister.

    adolffinkensen

    June 2, 2022 at 8:02 pm


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