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  1. #1
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    New Zealand Defence Force

    The New Zealand army has recently reorganised its units into one brigade.

    Army Plan Takes Shape

    On Tuesday 13 December, the 2nd Land Force Group, based in Linton Camp, and the 3rd Land Force Group, based in Burnham, amalgamated to form 1 (NZ) Brigade. The establishment of 1 (NZ) Brigade is one of the most visible aspects of the changes being made over the next 2 years based on Chief of Army Major General Tim Keating’s plan to Operationalise the Army.
    The first phase of this plan, known as Army 2015, sees major changes to Army’s current structures, locations and method of operations to allow for its future growth and improve combat effectiveness.

    In addition to the changes in Linton, a new Headquarters Deployable Joint Task Force (Land) is being established at Burnham Camp. Command of the Territorial Forces transfers to the newly established Headquarters TRADOC (Training & Doctrine Command) previously the Headquarters Land Training Doctrine Group, based in Waiouru.

    "These new organisations are not a destination. Instead, they form a starting point for how Army will operate in future years to support its objectives and the priorities of the Government of the day," says Major General Keating.

    "These changes fall directly from the future force structure proposals presented in Defence White Paper 2010.. Part of that White Paper identified a need for Army to develop a more deployable headquarters & task force. These changes help us to achieve this, allowing us to continue to meet our objectives and obligations at home , within the broader Pacific region, and further afield with our allies and partners," says Maj Gen Keating.

    The transition to 1 (NZ) Brigade was marked by a parade of 800 soldiers and officers from 2nd Land Force Group. In addition to the Linton based units, the parade also included representatives from 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles, 3 Logistics Battalion, 1 (NZ) Military Intelligence Coy, and 1 (NZ) Military Police that now form part of the Brigade.
    http://www.army.mil.nz/at-a-glance/n...5c25093%7D.htm

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    Resident Yank faughanballagh's Avatar
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    Makes sense.
    "Everyone's for a free Tibet, but no one's for freeing Tibet." -Mark Steyn. What an IMO-centric quote, eh?

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  4. #3
    Commander in Chief RoyalGreenJacket's Avatar
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    the NZ Army have been actively recruiting ex British Forces in the UK recently - my mate went to one of their sessions today and they are offering a very decent package with full relocation and good pension benefits for lads who leave the UK to join them:

    http://www.defencecareers.mil.nz/how...g-presentation

    Quote Originally Posted by New Zealand Defence Force
    NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE RECRUITING PRESENTATION
    The New Zealand Defence Force is currently looking for people from the UK with full-time military experience to fill a number of critical roles. We have a wide range of vacancies, at a variety of rank levels, and are keen to hear from anyone who may fit the bill. We have a recruiting team visiting the UK late March early April.

    WHY NEW ZEALAND?

    The array of exciting activities and spectacular scenery in New Zealand is unmatched anywhere in the world. Experience the unique culture, the warm and hospitable people, and innovative adventure activities that take place amid dramatic and diverse landscapes. For those that seek pure adrenaline bungy jumping, quad biking, paraponting and jet boating are just a few of the activities lined up for the more adventurous person. It is also about pure relaxation. New Zealand is an ideal place where you can feel free to indulge, with a weekend away at a luxury lodge or spa resort offering the ultimate in pampering. If you want to explore the creative and cultural riches of New Zealand, there are many opportunities in every region.

    To be eligible for overseas enlistment you must have previous or current military service from one of the following countries:

    United Kingdom

    United States of America

    Canada

    Australia

    If you are an overseas applicant, to be eligible to apply, you must have been a citizen of one of the countries listed above for a minimum of 10 years.

    Note: Personnel “below” the rank of Corporal (equivalent) will not be selected for recruitment from overseas. These ranks target ex-NZDF personnel looking to re-enlist within the NZDF.



    NEW ZEALAND ARMY

    Currently the New Zealand Army is targeting the following trades and rank levels for overseas enlistment:

    Ammunition Technician

    Armourer

    Crewman

    Driver Army Logistics Regiment

    Electrical Fitter

    Electronics Technician

    Electronic Warfare Operator

    Fire Fighter

    Gunner

    Information Systems Operator

    Intelligence Operator

    Maintenance Fitter

    Medic

    Movement Operator

    Military Police

    Physical Trainer

    Plant Operator

    Rifleman

    Systems Engineer

    SAS Trooper

    Supply Technician

    Vehicle Mechanic

    ROYAL NEW ZEALAND NAVY

    Currently the RNZN is targeting the following trades and rank levels for overseas enlistment:


    OPERATION BRANCH:
    Pilot Observer

    Pilot

    Seaman Officer Principal Warfare Officer - Lieutenant

    Seaman Officer Hydrographer - Lieutenant

    Leading Communications Operator

    Leading Combat Seaman Specialist

    Operational Divers

    Hydrographic Survey Technicians


    TECHNICAL BRANCH:
    Marine Engineering Officer Charge qualified

    Weapons Engineering Officer - Lieutenant

    Petty Officer Marine Technician (Electrical): UK equivalent is POET(ME)ART and they must have PQE and EOOW 2

    Warrant Officer Marine Technician ART with control room tickets/Charge.



    ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE

    The RNZAF is currently targeting the following trades and rank levels for overseas enlistment:

    Pilot - Qualified Flying Instructors FLTLT and SQNLDR

    Helicopter Crewmen (HCM) - CPL to F/S

    Air Warfare Specialists - SGT to F/S - Link 16 expertise

    Senior Intelligence Specialists (Sintels) LAC - F/S

    Armourers - Cpl

    Avionics - LAC - SGT

    Engineer Officers Flt Lt (Software expertise preferred)

    Physical Training Instructors (Force Protection) CPL - F/S

    Operations NCOs (Base Operations) - F/S

    Mission Briefing Officers SGT - F/S
    http://www.defencecareers.mil.nz/how...eas-applicants

    plenty of opportunities for lads like myself leaving the British Army.

    Jungle - you're eligible too - fancy it?!
    Last edited by RoyalGreenJacket; 21st March 2012 at 20:06.
    RGJ

    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

    The Rifles

  5. #4
    Private 3* Jungle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
    Jungle - you're eligible too - fancy it?!
    I'm getting offers here too; today I was offered a job as a Ground Liaison Officer / Force Protection Officer with an Air Expeditionary Wing...

    I wouldn't mind a few years in NZ; I'll write them just in case...
    "On the plains of hesitation, bleach the bones of countless millions, who on the very dawn of victory, laid down to rest, and in resting died.

    Never give up!!"

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  7. #5
    Commander in Chief RoyalGreenJacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jungle View Post
    I'm getting offers here too; today I was offered a job as a Ground Liaison Officer / Force Protection Officer with an Air Expeditionary Wing...

    I wouldn't mind a few years in NZ; I'll write them just in case...
    let us know how you get on.

    they are happy to conduct initial interviews over Skype.
    RGJ

    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

    The Rifles

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
    let us know how you get on.

    they are happy to conduct initial interviews over Skype.

    Are you interested? Will Mrs Greenjacket + Kids mind moving around the world?

  9. #7
    Commander in Chief RoyalGreenJacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craghopper View Post
    Are you interested? Will Mrs Greenjacket + Kids mind moving around the world?
    realistically Crag - no, while it is very tempting - i'm trying to settle the family now as my boys have lived in 5 different countries since they were born and only spent 3 years of their lives in England.

    yes it would be great - if i was single i'd give it a whirl.
    RGJ

    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

    The Rifles

  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
    realistically Crag - no, while it is very tempting - i'm trying to settle the family now as my boys have lived in 5 different countries since they were born and only spent 3 years of their lives in England.

    yes it would be great - if i was single i'd give it a whirl.

    I'd do it but wifey wouldn't leave mammy

    I'm sure if you canvass them they might let a paddy(Irish DF I'm referring to) join the ranks since all weapons training is the same..
    Last edited by Craghopper; 22nd March 2012 at 01:42.

  11. #9
    Commander in Chief RoyalGreenJacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craghopper View Post
    I'd do it but wifey wouldn't leave mammy

    I'm sure if you canvass them they might let a paddy(Irish DF I'm referring to) join the ranks since all weapons training is the same..
    i agree mate - unless they are really strict and have done a deal with the other nations governments then i'd say DFI lads are in with a chance.
    RGJ

    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

    The Rifles

  12. #10
    Private 3* Jungle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
    let us know how you get on.

    they are happy to conduct initial interviews over Skype.
    I stopped the process; I received posting instructions to the job in the EXP Wing. Following that, I have an opportunity for a posting in the US, so I'll go for that.
    "On the plains of hesitation, bleach the bones of countless millions, who on the very dawn of victory, laid down to rest, and in resting died.

    Never give up!!"

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  14. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
    ...yes it would be great - if i was single i'd give it a whirl.
    we're thinking about it - yes its an upheaval for the kids, but i'll be leaving in 3 years so its likely that there'll be upheaval anyway - and the things i'd like to/can do in Civ Div all mean i'd be away even more than i am at the moment. its something to think about - i can't imagine that you'll be leaving the cake and tending the garden till you drop dead, you're going to have a second career, and its worth thinking about how much upheaval there'll be while you're in that career.

    we're looking at it as one last move and then staying put - it's a really good place to bring up kids, its gives them the opportunity to live/work in NZ or Australia when they finish school, or they can come back to the EU if they wish.

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    I thought a more detailed rundown of the recent changes to the NZ Army structure as part of Army 2015 might be of interest.

    A new Command has been formed called TRADOC (Training and Doctrine) which will be centred next year at new Campus near Massey University (close to Linton Army Camp (which will now stay open as the new HQ for 1 Brigade rather than being closed as initially mooted after the DWP/10), and 90 minutes from Waiouru Training Camp and just 30 minutes from Ohakea AFB. TRADOC has taken on the command of the Army’s six Reserve Infantry Battalions which this year are to be restructured into three Reserve Infantry Battalions with an envisaged four companies based on 3 platoons. These will be geographically centred. Northern combining the remaining infantry elements of 3 and 6 Batt, Central 5 and 7, and Southern 2 and 4 Batt after the other attached reserve units have be integrated into 1 BDE or in the case of Medical services under the new NZDF Joint Services Medical Structure. HQ TRADOC Command will also comprise of a Land Operations Training Centre, Tactical School, School of Military Intelligence and Security, Logistics Operations School, School of Military Engineering, School of Artillery, School of Signals, Combat School - with Mounted and Dismounted Operations Wing, Army Command School, Officer Cadet School, NCO and WO Development Wing, 5 Army Depot, NZ Army Recruitment Company, and the NZ Army Trade Training School.

    The Army Reserve will be split into 2 strands. An ‘Active Component’ which will be a high readiness reserve that will not go below a strength of 1200 Army reservists, who will train for an average of 24 days a year. In addition, there will be a ‘Standby Reserve’ component of personnel who have specialist and other skills, for example medic, commsigs, arty, engineering and logistics, but who do not require the same level of annual military training, will be retained and only required to do an annual refresher block course, ensuring overall numbers of Army Reserves are similar current levels. These people will train at TRADOC but will be attached to their operational units under 1 BDE.
    The newly formed 1 (NZ) Brigade will number around 3300 personnel of which 500 will be Reservists and a further 300 recently civilianised contractors doing the back office jobs. The BDE will be based at Linton Army Camp with some elements also at Burnham.

    As reported earlier in the thread 1 (NZ) Brigade has been formed (following the spinning off of the Army Reserve infantry elements into TRADOC along with the former Land Training Group) with the consolidation of 2 Land Force Group and 3 Land Force Group into a revised brigade structure. The new BDE has the following ORBAT. HQ 1 New Zealand Brigade (1 (NZ) BDE), 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR), 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infatry Regiment (2/1 RNZIR), Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles (QAMR - A Sqd, B Sqd), Waikato Mounted Rifles (RNZAC), 16 Field Regiment (16 FD REGT - 161, 163, 11/4 Batt), 2 Engineer Regiment (RNZE), 1 New Zealand Signals Regiment (RNZSC), 2 Combat Service Support Battalion (RNZLC), 2 Health Support Battalion New Zealand (RNZMC), 3 Combat Support Services Battalion (RNZLC), 1 Military Intelligence Company (RNZIC), 1 Military Police (RNZMPC). The new brigade will start to focus more on amphibious op's than it has done in the past and from this structure will eventually come a Ready Reaction Force of Company Group size that will complement a similar initiative being undertaken by the ADF thus creating an ANZAC crisis response capability.

    An example of the changes at a unit level can be examined with respect to the Gunners at 16 Fd Regt are being restructured into 3 new Hybrid Btys - two Regular force (161 and 163 Btys ) and one made up of Army Reservists (11/4 Bty). The new Btys will have a unique structure in that AD (Mistral), mortars (88mm) and guns (Hamel 105mm) are integrated into the same sub unit. The depleted 39 Mortar Bty and 43 Air Defence Battery's as well the depleted former Reserve 32 (Obsevation) Battery were merged into the 3 refocused Batteries last December. It was also vital that a 3rd manuver group be established with the redevelopment of Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles from a Squadron into a Regiment, which includes the former Army Reserve motorised squadron, Waikato Mounted Rifles.

    The third major component of Army 2015 is the establishment of HQ Deployable Joint Task Force (Land) (HQ DJTF(L)) at Burnham Military Camp which provides the basis of the Land contribution to a Deployable Joint Inter Agency Task Force HQ as a dedicated rapidly deployable Command and Control (C2) element that will be able to deliver C2 to support contingencies in the land environment both domestically and off shore, with a focus on the South West Pacific.

    The rationale for the restructured NZ Army is that a Combined Arms Task Force Group of Battalion Group size will have the capacity to be able to be rotate whilst undertaking UN Chapter VII deployments as well as have the concurrent capacity to deploy a Light Task Force Group of Company Group size that would be able to accommodate a Chapter VI contingency in the South Pacific. For example if another INTERFET operation was underway and a RAMSI type scenario or Samoan Tsunami situation eveloved during that time frame.

    Finally, though not obviously reported, is that since December the NZSAS has developed into a Regiment from being a Group. It now includes a fully established 1 (NZ) Commando Squadron, 1 EOD Squadron and CBRE as well as the original sabre squadrons.

    On the downside there is plenty of upheaval as these changes go through - but frankly the old model was not working and a far better Army will result.

    Cheers Te Kaha.

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  18. #13
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    Fair bit of happenings going on down here of late.

    NZDF is looking to get 11 new maritime helicopters from Kaman for a deal expected for around $200m. The aircraft are the re-manufactured Seasprites that the RAN bought in 2001 and tried to adapt and graft there own weapon systems, avionic upgrades and sensors leading to a billion dollar disaster. When the deal went belly up the airframes went back to Kaman who stripped out the Aussies "enhancements" and put in a OTS full digital cockpit effectively making the the SH-2G(I) an upgraded SH-2G(NZ) model. New Zealand has been flying 5 Seasprites since the 1990's. Firstly the old F model then the G since 2001. It is expected that up to 8 of the 11 Sprites will be IOC by 2015 and serve until 2025 when a new maritime helicopter is introduced shortly before the Anzac II later next decade. The excess Sprite will be considered attrition spares. With the completion of the this beal and the expected second tranch of three AW-109 LUH's, the NZDF will be capable of operating up to 24 new helicopters.

    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Sec...9731340361000/

    Other NZDF news:

    1) We are pretty much back inside the US camp with the signing of this bi-lateral defence agreement.

    http://beehive.govt.nz/release/us-nz...ngement-signed

    2) To celebrate we are off to RIMPAC for the first time since 1984.

    http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/news/feature-...-nzdfotruf.htm

    3) Though not officially announced yet, the RNZAF has begun delivery of 5 US leased KingAir B200's for Multi Engine Pilot Training replacing its 5 King Airs it has operated since 1998. Again this is seen as an interim measure as there is an expectation that purchased B350ER's or similar that would be capable of inshore fisheries and customs patrol as well as the MEPT role will be introduced. Funding for this project was deferred and the lease updated to buy time. Time indeed was of the essence in that all RNZAF aircraft except the MEPT platform and the aging basic trainer the CT/4E possess a full digital cockpit. Having old flight systems in trainers and then expecting young pilots converting to P-3K2's, C-130 and such was counter-productive and pointless. The newer leased B200's with FD cockpit and improved radar will enable the RNZAF to do limited inshore patrol freeing up the P-3K2's.

    4) Finally, the PC-9M and the T-6B Texan II are in the final shootout to be the platform for the RNZAF advanced pilot training syllabus to effectively replace the Aermacchi. There is also speculation that a further tranche of PC-9's/T-6's may eventuate to replace the CT/4E and cover both the basic and advanced syllabus like Ireland does.

    One last thing - lets hope Ireland finally gets the luck it deserves and puts one over the AB's tonight.

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  20. #14
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    NZ navy sailors flock to Oz mines

    The Defence Force is losing hundreds of staff to Australian mining companies as low morale leads 40 per cent of personnel to consider a career change.

    Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones revealed that the mining industry was recruiting in Devonport, home of Auckland's naval base.

    Navy staff were being targeted because of their experience with heavy machinery, and departures to Australia were one of the reasons the Navy's attrition rate had climbed to 22.3 per cent.

    Lt Gen Jones said Defence Force numbers often fluctuated, but departures had increased during tough economic times.

    The force could not compete with mining salaries, which were often twice as large as those in the military.

    The Air Force, Army, and Navy had lost 1000 people in the past two years, and a "high proportion" had gone into mining.

    The Navy had cut back on exercises at sea because of low staff numbers, and was prioritising its patrols for busy periods, such as in fishing season.



    Staff were also moving to the Australian Defence Force.

    "We have agreements between all the militaries where you can't actively go an headhunt someone who's serving in here," said Lt Gen Jones.

    "But of course all the militaries can advertise what their conditions of service are, and they can tell people, 'Hey if you want to leave the NZ Defence Force, come and talk to us'."

    The Defence Force could still handle disaster relief, but it could struggle to sustain a large operation.

    "Another East Timor, of 2000-2002, when we were putting 1000 people in operations, would strain us."

    A survey of the Defence Force given to a parliamentary select committee yesterday showed morale had been falling since early 2009.

    More than 40 per cent of staff intended to leave, up from 27 per cent in mid-2009.

    The Defence Force was being restructured, including job cuts, to save $400 million by 2014/15.

    Lt Gen Jones said the force was working hard to improve the quality of life for its staff.

    "What we do try to focus on is still maintaining a very positive work environment where people feel valued."


    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10816225

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  22. #15
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    Depending on ones speciality the Australian Defence Force are offering huge signing on bonuses for Kiwi's wanting to cross the ditch.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/employment...ectid=10812382

    Compounding that issue is of course the mining boom particularly in Western Australia and inland Queensland in which ex NZ military are being targeted and thus flocking to. The reason - Salaries of AUD200K are not uncommon. Soldiers are seen by the mining industry as perfect for the tough and at times technical job - which involves working in hot humid conditions, a predominantly male culture and within very isolated company mining towns (the closest civvy life can take one to a large military compound). Many civvy's can not hack it - but ex military types can and do because ones take home pay even after the high cost of living is tripled and some BHP camp ain't too bad after a couple of tours into the Stan at 50K a year for your average ambitious 30 year old ex infantry NCO.

    There is no way the NZDF can counter those issues particularly around the massive salary differences.

    Morale is indeed trending lower due to 1) The contracting out of many on base support jobs and rationalisation (even though I agree with it) was not executed properly. 2) The IOC deferral of some major projects (particularly Navy and Air Force) which would have kept up professional interest enough to stay on, has given some pause for thought. 3) The glacial speed that some projects have taken has lead to further rank and file frustration 4) The flow on effects of poor policy and acquisition decisions taken last decade was the trigger point for many leaving and though the 2010 Defence White Paper and some recent long term pathways are promising such as the JATF structure and Army 2020 - that is not the here and now.
    Last edited by Te Kaha; 29th June 2012 at 09:35.

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  24. #16
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    Read today that RNZN may be laying up two of its new ships due to the lack of men,

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    Quote Originally Posted by sofa View Post
    Read today that RNZN may be laying up two of its new ships due to the lack of men,
    There are some critical personnel shortages in some specialities meaning that only two of the four IPV's are available for operations at any one time when there should be three. Thus 2 IPV's are alongside at present.

    It isn't so much a total numbers game as there are good numbers of crew in some areas, helped by the decommissioning of the HMNZS Resolution, which effectively will not be replaced.

    The RNZN is now down to Eleven ships. The Government knows that this is not enough - but will not do anything to change it. In 2001 a major inter-departmental study (Maritime Forces Review) considered the RNZN patrol requirements.

    It noted:

    Patrol capabilities are required to conduct maritime surveillance, in conjunction with maritime air patrol assets, in the New Zealand EEZ, to assist South Pacific Island states patrol their EEZs and in the Southern Ocean. Surface surveillance provided by the naval patrol force would complement aerial surveillance and other sources of information.

    This Review, and consultation with civilian agencies, suggests that a mix of five small inshore patrol vessels for most of the inshore tasks and at least three capable OPVs, plus the MRV, for the offshore tasks would meet this requirement.


    The Review has identified a significant capacity gap in the provision of inshore, offshore and South Pacific patrol. Additional capacity in the form of a mix of inshore and offshore patrol vessels will need to be acquired if this role is to be met. There is an option to reconfigure the existing IPCs although a speed capability gap will remain.
    ________

    Two things: 1) The Canterbury is a lousy patrol ship only good for training and sealift (my tounge is firmly in my cheek) and 2) the previous government only delivered 2 OPV's and 4 IPV's and since then we have lost the Resolution and Kahu over the last 24 months, which were able to take up the slack.

    Also - the Canterbury was found to be too small during last years combined RNZN/Army and ADF Operation Hamel - a real world sealift exercise and not a theorectical design study. It was intended that it should be able to Sealift a Company Group + deploy 2 months support material. It was safely only able to sealift 95% of that requirement.

    It is circumstances like this that peeve service personnel and make them question their contribution to their country, when its politicians in charge of them and demanding of them don't care enough to provide them not just the tools for their job but the right numbers of tools. They take the glory when things go well and pass the buck when they do not.
    Last edited by Te Kaha; 30th June 2012 at 02:03.

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  27. #18
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    Where's Te Kahu gone?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldie fish View Post
    Where's Te Kahu gone?
    She was sold by tender to the owner of Fitzroy Engineering of Auckland. She was the last of seven Moa Class in the fleet but the first one built (1978).

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    Ah, I presumed she was 80s built as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jungle View Post
    I stopped the process; I received posting instructions to the job in the EXP Wing. Following that, I have an opportunity for a posting in the US, so I'll go for that.
    Well, I just got word today: I will be posted to Colorado Springs next summer, for 3 years.
    "On the plains of hesitation, bleach the bones of countless millions, who on the very dawn of victory, laid down to rest, and in resting died.

    Never give up!!"

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  32. #22
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    How awful for you

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  34. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jungle View Post
    Well, I just got word today: I will be posted to Colorado Springs next summer, for 3 years.
    *insert jokes about Cheyenne Mountain and Stargate*
    "Everyone's for a free Tibet, but no one's for freeing Tibet." -Mark Steyn. What an IMO-centric quote, eh?

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  36. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sofa View Post
    Read today that RNZN may be laying up two of its new ships due to the lack of men,
    Getting worse it seems.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10865707

    Spanking new ships unable to sail because the Navy doesn't have enough sailors - how is that possible with so many young people out of work? Geoff Cumming investigates

    Former Defence staffer Lance Beath says New Zealand needs to meet realistic targets and maintain a presence in Pacific waters to show it is pulling its weight in regional security. Photo / NZ Herald

    If John Key is genuinely worried about the likelihood of "boat people" washing ashore here, perhaps he could look at the Navy's hamstrung capacity to patrol our seas instead of expecting it to trim millions from its budget each year.

    It's easy to sheet home the Navy's staffing woes - which have kept half its patrol fleet tied up at Devonport for much of the past year - to Wellington. The Government is certainly the most popular target of contributors to online forums, many of whom show inside knowledge of the issues affecting the three Defence forces (Army, Air Force and Navy).

    But responsibility goes wider - to the way the Defence Force bungled its response to the Government's cost-saving drive and to a sea of simmering issues denting morale, which all crashed ashore at once.

    The detritus of the wave of change which landed in 2011 left the Navy short of experienced sailors in critical positions. Though 168 naval staff were made redundant under Defence's "civilianisation" project, hundreds more left voluntarily in the 2011/12 financial year. By June, annual turnover in the Navy had reached 22.96 per cent - nearly one in four staff had left in the preceding 12 months.



    Last week, the Herald revealed the consequences - that the HMNZS Wellington, one of two new offshore patrol vessels, had been tied up at Devonport since June.

    Only two of the four inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) have been in service at any one time and have spent fewer than their target days at sea because of staffing issues.

    Despite unemployment among 20 to 24-year-olds running at 18.5 per cent, no quick fix is in sight. The shortages are in critical areas, including engineering officers, technicians and watchkeepers where lengthy training and experience is required. The Herald reported that 18 Australian sailors were now helping to plug gaps in the ships' complements.

    It means the huge taxpayer investment in the reshaping of the Navy - the Project Protector fleet - is unable to meet expectations. The $650 million purchase of the six-strong patrol fleet and multi-role vessel Canterbury stemmed from the Labour Government's decision to realign our Defence forces to reflect modern realities: peacekeeping and emergency response, regional (Pacific) security, and keeping our vast economic zone secure from threats - including fisheries protection and border security.

    With the Orion fleet of six patrol aircraft also at reduced strength while upgrading continues, it means surveillance of our exclusive economic zone is well shy of desired levels. The heightened risks are wide-ranging: increased illegal incursions by foreign fishing fleets, rule breaches by our own fishing companies, biosecurity breaches and the signal it sends to asylum-seekers and drug-runners that they have little chance of detection should they wish to sail our way.

    Then there's politics - if we expect Australia to watch our back in regional security, we need to at least carry out the limited functions we commit to. These regional responsibilities also (theoretically) extend to helping our Pacific neighbours safeguard their economic zones.

    The patrol fleet's current availability is not just breaching the Navy's own targets - it is a fraction of the target set in 2002 by Government agencies who are the fleet's main customers, including Customs, Conservation and Fisheries. Citing the greatly increased need for surveillance and detection, the agencies settled on annual targets of 1371 sea days for surface patrols and 2000-3000 hours' flying time for the Orions.

    Project Protector was conceived with these agencies' needs in mind. Ahead of the fleet's commissioning in 2010, the Navy anticipated having ships on the water for up to 840 sea days, an average of 140 days per ship. But, in 2011/12, it set a reduced target range of 534-590 days for the inshore patrols and achieved only 397 days. One inshore patrol ship, the Hawea, spent just 59 days at sea, or 43 per cent of its target.

    The Government's response was simply to lower the targets for 2012/13 to a range of 484-585 sea days for the inshore patrols. That the offshore vessel HMNZS Wellington has been tied up since June confirms staffing issues are continuing to limit the Navy's capabilities.

    Nor are the Orions meeting targets, flying just 1553 hours on EEZ patrols last financial year against a target of 2250 hours.

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    None of the "partner" agencies will publicly express concern about our unguarded waters. The most telling comment is from the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre, which last year described the Navy's availability as "adequate".

    The fishing industry is not so acquiescent. Seafood NZ spokesman Don Carson says the industry relies on monitoring and enforcement of regulations to convince overseas markets we are fishing sustainably. Diminishing global fish stocks are increasing the likelihood that foreign fleets may risk venturing into our waters, says Carson. Any lessening of surveillance would be disappointing.

    Fisheries researcher Glenn Simmons says the shackles on sea patrols add to the evidence that "fisheries surveillance is a joke".

    "Foreign charter vessels are out of control," says Simmons, whose research sparked the Government clampdown on charter fleet employment abuses. "There's no oversight and no enforcement. They dump as much [unwanted catch] as they can."

    Lance Beath, a former Defence staffer now with the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, says New Zealand needs to meet realistic targets and maintain a presence in Pacific waters to show it is pulling its weight in regional security.

    "And if they are not out there as much as they should be, that obviously has impacts on training and capability. Why would you buy new ships and not put them to sea?"

    He says the reduced operational capability has had a perverse outcome - helping Defence to meet its savings targets.

    The arrival of the seven ships had been expected to revive moribund naval morale, ending years of frustration over budgetary restraint and outdated ships and equipment. The Navy's changing role promised more action of the type that attracts recruits: chances to travel, to be physically active, to perform valuable roles in emergencies, to gain experience with other countries' forces and ships. But enthusiasm waned as delivery dates blew out and, when the ships were accepted, they had multiple defects. The delays led to a spike in departures as officers trained for the new vessels lost patience.

    Then came the civilianisation project, which followed a Government edict to Defence to trim $350 million-$400 million from its budget by 2014/15. This came after a "value for money" review led by former State Services Commission head Rod Deane, and a Government white paper in 2010 which proposed a suite of cuts and savings. Part of the drive was for Defence to retain the savings to put towards the huge upcoming costs of ships and other equipment due for replacement in the next 15 years.

    Civilianisation meant converting many military positions to civilian appointments with lesser allowances and conditions. The Defence Force identified 1400 positions, mostly "back office" administrative posts and logistics and training roles for civilianisation in 2011. But it did so without identifying how many military posts it would need going forward, an Audit Office inquiry released this month found.

    Halfway through, Defence discovered it needed more military staff overall. Although it moved to scale back the project, it was too late.

    "NZDF always intended to reduce the number of military staff through the civilianisation project but has lost far more military staff than intended," Auditor-General Lyn Provost reported. "The loss of so many military staff ... has made it more difficult for the NZDF to do its job."

    Across the three services, 500 people were made redundant, two-thirds of them uniformed (frontline) staff, former Defence Minister Phil Goff told Parliament last year.

    But up to 1500 more left voluntarily, disillusioned at the handling of the process. There were complaints of selection bias. Those who valued job security and signed 15-year contracts felt betrayed.

    The Audit Office report hints at the damage done to "the bonds of camaraderie, integrity and commitment" that are part of military culture and the resulting impact on morale and staff turnover. The Navy had even warned Defence that its workforce was about right and that being forced to reduce military staff increased the risk of not being able to put to sea. The Army and Air Force also expressed reservations.

    In 2011/12, turnover in the Navy doubled "from a manageable 11.25 per cent at the start of the financial year to an unsustainable 22.96 per cent at year's end," the Defence annual report says. The shortages of trained personnel began to significantly limit operations early last year. The shortages were in "several critical specialist areas essential to the safe and effective operation of the ships".

    But civilianisation was just the final straw for many. Turnover had been an issue for more than a decade, with the Navy's justifiable practice of training recruits in skilled trades such as engineering, and paying tertiary education costs, leaving it vulnerable to the higher pay rates available in the private sector. Australia's mining boom, bringing firms here in search of recruits, lured more to leave.

    On top of the problems with the new ships, pay became an issue. Staff went four years without a pay rise until last year, when cost savings from the civilianisation project allowed an adjustment. But it was not evenly distributed (senior ranks got most) and, in some cases, conditions and allowances (including superannuation entitlements?) were clawed back.

    "It was a case of giving with one hand and taking away with another," says Labour's defence spokesman, Iain Lees-Galloway.

    Those with a longer-term view point to societal changes. Gone are the days when school-leavers eyed the Navy as a 30-year career - though the job security, while reduced, is still an attraction. Weeks at sea on overseas deployments have downsides for married couples and those raising families: temptations to step back into "civvy" life grow over time. For women, who now comprise a third of the naval workforce, issues of sexual harassment and assault, equal opportunities, maternity leave and pregnancy duties still cause some friction, an Equal Employment Opportunities survey found.

    Beath says staff retention is a regional problem, with Australia's Defence Force looking to plug its gaps by recruiting New Zealanders.

    But on top of all the push-pull factors, civilianisation was like a dambuster. The impact of the loss of senior hands goes beyond the inability to put ships to sea. Those left talk of the pressure of increased workloads, covering for several vacancies and of safety fears arising from young recruits being promoted beyond their experience levels.

    Defence has raised the possibility that one or more of the ships could be sold.

    From the horizon, it may seem that our Navy lurches from storm to storm with few sustained periods of fair weather. This may be because the news media tends to focus on the storms.

    But Defence is keen to emphasise that things have moved on from "the dark days" of late 2011. Turnover has fallen - though it is still a worrying 18 per cent. Last year's pay rise was a Government acknowledgement that the squeeze had gone too far.

    Sources say though morale could be better, it could be worse. They talk of the pride that comes with doing meaningful work for their country - be it rescuing yachties, responding to Pacific cyclones or the Rena environmental emergency. Our sailors maintain an international reputation for their abilities and enthusiasm in such crises, even if their equipment sometimes limits their capabilities.

    Australian officers have been warmly welcomed; part of a reciprocal arrangement which will give New Zealanders opportunities to gain experience on Australian ships. Many ex-Royal Navy sailors have been recruited and there are exchange arrangements with Canada. Beath says the healing military relationship with the United States should allow more exercises with the world's biggest navy.

    Vice-chief of the Defence Force, Major-General Tim Keating, says the HMNZS Wellington is due for recommissioning in April and a third inshore patrol vessel will go back to sea in June. The fourth will be engaged in training.

    Keating says the Navy is moving away from "sea days" as a performance measure and is discussing with Government agencies how to better employ the ships. Instead of having an IPV at sea for 200 days "going up and down, hoping to bump into something", it may be more effective to target use of the ships to operations and areas where illegal activities are known or suspected to be taking place, he says.

    "We have great people - we want to use them smartly."

    But what will do most for staff retention and morale, as Beath points out, is getting ships out to sea.

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