Forces: July 19, 2001


New Zealand has replaced the battalion on UN peacekeeping duty on Timor (which was an artillery battalion hastily reconfigured as infantry) with the 1st Infantry Battalion (which is making its second tour). The 2nd Infantry Battalion will take over for its second tour at year's end, and New Zealand has told the UN that it will send another battalion (presumably the same artillery battalion that just left) back next summer to finish out 2002. Each of the infantry battalions deployed with 25% of its personnel drawn from the Territorial Force (basically the same as the US National Guard) and the smaller artillery battalion had to draw even more reservists. The New Zealand Army is being slowly ground down by this duty, which is absorbing 100% of its personnel and training time. Recruiting and re-enlistment (particularly for the Territorials) is falling rapidly. The New Zealand Army is facing the massive obsolescence of its equipment as no money has been spent for major new systems in decades. (An order of 105 new LAV armored cars for the two infantry battalions is due late next year, but this comes at the cost of canceling plans to expand each battalion to four companies. Curiously, these LAVs would be all but useless in Timor where the terrain demands dismounted infantry and a few tracked vehicles.) An option to buy C-130Js (as a part of Australia's contract) will probably be passed in favor of a cheaper refit of the old C-130Hs. The fourteen old UH-1Hs need replacement, as do the two B727-22QC maritime recon planes. --Stephen V Cole


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