In 2015, I made a submission on the New Zealand Defence Force white paper on what the priorities and structure of the Defence Force should be in years to come. With questions arising once more from our role in Iraq, I have revisited my submission. The questions were ones asked by the Defence Force in presenting the paper for public examination. This is Part One of Two.
Question 1: What are the major threats or challenges to New Zealand’s security now and in the future?
The major security issues for New Zealand are not in the Middle East. We should not have involvement in Middle East conflicts unless it is at the behest of the United Nations.
Because we are a small nation without global clout, we should focus our Defence Force, defence policy and associated strategic planning on more localized threats such as those in the South Pacific. The potential for instability in Pacific island nations such as Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea poses a much more credible threat than I.S.I.S. or al-Qaida.
Question 2: What changes in the international environment, including the relations between states, nonstate actors and international institutions, will affect New Zealand’s interests and what might this mean for the Defence Force?
The competing interests of China and the United States in the South Pacific are a concern in that the monetary and economic offers usually come at a cost, such as the nation making the offer will turn a blind eye to human rights abuses or permit environmental harm that these nations cannot afford to happen. The potential for a power vacuum to form and let in outside threats in Pacific island nations, or a brazen attempt by a world power to use their military capacity to influence the island nations.
Question 3: What are the roles that the Defence Force should perform to keep New Zealand secure and advance our interests abroad?
Any participation in war situations should be only those related to our immediate national security, or sanctioned by the United Nations.
Outside of war situations our roles should be:
- -Peace making/peace keeping
- Disaster relief
- Securing weapons of mass destruction and assisting with dismantling per United Nations
It is also important that we work with Australia on South Pacific issues.
Question 4: What are the emerging security challenges that New Zealand is likely to face in its immediate territory, including its Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf, the territory of the Realm Nations and the Ross Dependency?
Having an intelligence gathering network that is specific to New Zealands interests is vital. However it needs to be transparent about what it does – that does not necessarily mean sharing classified data, but certainly answerable to the New Zealand Parliament.
Ensuring that said intelligence network picks up on foreign power activity in the South Pacific, especially with regards to the Cook Islands.
The major priorities are dealing with illegal foreign intrusions into the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Continental Shelf area and the Ross Dependency. We must be prepared to arrest or physically warn intruders that we are aware of their presence, and that it will not be tolerated.