Sunday, October 3, 2010

Defence Review

Rod Deane's defence review appears to have found it can save $50-100 million p.a from the NZDF budget []. The trick is to use civilians in place of soldiers apparently. Wow! My review suggested the same thing years ago.

But at the same time the Government is committing to replace two anti-submarine-warfare frigates in 2030 at an estimated cost of $2 billion. On a simple piggy-bank approach to finance that would be $100 million a year the government will be putting aside for its future Navy. So saving $100 million by shifting jobs around will be cancelled out by buying hardware we don't need in twenty years time.

Am I the only one who can see the Minister of Defence is being sold a pup? Unless the Government thinks about what we need to be defended from, and how, promising to spend money on future toys is just so much horse-shit.

The fundamental problem is the way the military clings to:

1. The ridiculous notion we will refight WW2 (this time against China apparently)

2. Its traditional structure with its emphasis on areas of mobility (sailing, flying or driving) rather than spheres of operation (strategic or tactical).

The shit-for-brains analysis on which this capital acquisition projection is based is economically illiterate.

The Chinese in 2030 are not the Japanese Empire of 1930. China already has a Japanese Imperial "Co-prosperity sphere" and Australia and New Zealand are already in it! That's why Australasia is booming and America and Europe aren't. China is not about to start a war with its south Pacific mine, Australia, any more than Australia is going to fight China. The idea we might fight China shoulder-to-shoulder with America is the kind of idiot fantasy that only sad old scroats drowning their racist sorrows down the RSA would come up with.

What about Indonesia? Well, Indonesia is not going to invade Australia -other than RSA scroat fantasies like Australian movies. Indonesia is too poor and disorganised to attack a mini-superpower like Australia. Fundamentally it can't get air superiority and without that you can't invade anyone. So get this straight: Australia's military is better armed than anyone else in South East Asia. Australia could probably be nuclear armed about as fast as Japan and Germany if they wanted to be. If anything Australia is more likely to attack Indonesia.

The problem is Indonesia is unstable and could fracture badly and Australia has a rather paternalistic and racist outlook toward its northern neighbour. But Australia can't invade Indonesia because its too big, and Indonesia can't defeat Australia because it's too technically hopeless. The result will be more localised messes in Aceh or Papua like the one in East Timor.

In such situations big piles of capital with millions of dollars worth of anti-submarine warfare systems are not necessarily the most sensible contribution New Zealand can make. Only a one-eyed Navy scroat would think so. Most people would think air support and infantry would be more useful.

The fact is Mapp is failing to tame the New Zealand Defence Force. He has not got any serious strategic analysis to suggest why we need to replace the capability we have today with a more modern one later on. All he is doing is letting the brass keep their shiny bottoms on their chairs while they produce next to no value for New Zealand taxpayers.

The NZDF does need aeroplanes. Yesterday. Almost all our strategic and tactical needs rely on long range, economical, high capacity air lift. Airlift and helicopter air support are dual-use civilian and military and you'd be hard pressed to have too much of it in an island nation 2,000 miles from anywhere. We also need ships, but certainly not the kind the NZ Navy is wedded to.

By 2030 almost 100 years will have passed since New Zealand was last directly threatened by war. There will be robots on our streets, if not in our homes. There will be biological crises and our agriculture will be more valuable than ever. Directed energy weapons like Star-trek's phaser will be in existence. But the idea of conflict will be different. Finance will be even more connected to foreign policy. War and policing will be almost the same thing. Intelligence gathering will be huge and the internet will be a bigger realm of conflict.

In this environment deciding now to buy big boats twenty years hence, is just plain nonsensical.
Dr Mapp needs to stop listening to scroats and use his brain.