Blueprint for defence : Labour-Alliance defence policy and the Inquiry into defence beyond 2000 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University

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Massey University
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New Zealand's defence policies and the New Zealand Defence Force's (NZDF) military capabilities have long been the subject of vigorous public debate. At the centre of the debate have been questions over the need to retain military capabilities usually associated primarily with fighting wars, rather than performing tasks of a lower intensity. This debate reaches a crescendo whenever these capabilities require restoration or upgrading. In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, the plans to replace the Royal New Zealand Navy's Leander class frigates with ANZAC class frigates and the Royal New Zealand Air Force's Skyhawk fighters with F-16s occasioned some of the most sustained and bitter disagreements that New Zealand has ever seen. Underlying the debate over capabilities are deeper divisions over a range of issues, such as the appropriate role for the NZDF when the odds in the short to medium term of an attack on New Zealand are so slight. Defence policy statements under successive National-led Governments during the 1990s argued that despite the absence of a military threat, New Zealand's defence policy should be premised on the possibility that a serious military contingency affecting New Zealand's interests could occur well before New Zealand could raise forces to meet the threat - hence the need to retain the widest possible range of options even in times of relative peace.2 2 New Zealand Ministry of Defence, 1996 Defence Assessment, Wellington, 1996, pp.1, 23. It was further argued that other useful objectives would be met by this policy. Critics of this position argue that defence policy would be eminently more useful if it were to concentrate on meeting challenges and performing tasks that can be more confidently expected in the short to medium term. Peacekeeping is often said to be foremost among these tasks. [From the introduction]
National security, Military policy, Armed forces, Defence force, New Zealand