Defence personnel cuts announced yesterday are no surprise. It’s just a pity that the $25 million saved can’t be put to use in restoring our defence forces to a modest level of credibility.
This is no criticism of our servicemen and women. As they’ve shown time and again over many years that they’re as good as it gets. The problem is that their numbers are pathetic and their major equipment disgracefully inadequate.
Why weren’t our politicians (on both sides of the house) as careful with our money when they opened the chequebook to the finance companies with a breathtakingly incompetent absence of no-brainer basic conditions which have cost Ewen Mee a couple of billion?
Remember when we had allies?
I do — I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1958. Support vessels and coastal patrol craft aside, the RNZN fighting fleet comprised these actual warships:
- 1 Dido class light cruiser plus 1 in reserve.
- 4 Loch class frigates plus 2 in reserve and 2 Rothesay class building.
- 2 minesweepers (used as corvettes) plus 2 in reserve.
We could hold our heads up in comparison with those allies committed to watching our backs. Since then it’s been downhill all the way. We now have:
- 2 Anzac class frigates.
Much of the time, one of those frigates is in refit. One frigate versus one hunter-killer submarine—goodbye frigate.
We can spend up large on unemployment benefits (has all the work been done?), solo parent support (how many of those babies have only one parent?), and tummy-tuck operations, but we’re too far in hock to meet our real-world obligations. I wonder how our “allies” feel about that.
We can pay accident compensation to a prisoner who injures himself while escaping from prison but we can’t even meet a half of our promised foreign aid contribution of a paltry 0.7% of GDP.
In the year I joined the navy my contemporaries in the air force were flying de Havilland Vampire jet fighters and English Electric Canberra fighter bombers. I don’t know how many were operational at that time but we owned or borrowed 63 Vampires and 31 Canberras.
Now we have no fixed wing combat aircraft.
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
We’re a maritime nation, seriously dependent on trade, shipping is our lifeline. We have no effective means of defending our shipping lanes, let alone keeping out tens of millions of Asian refugees who’ll be looking for a home when the major coastal cities of India, Bangladesh, and the South East Asian river deltas submerge and when the Himalayan snow loss results in the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yellow River and all the other great Asian life sustaining rivers drying up annually.
How enthusiastic will the Aussies and the Yanks be when we beg for help after we’ve spent decades—generations even—abusing their good will?
They may now be milking our milkers, but we started the milking.
Once were warriors indeed.