Forces: February 8, 2002


New Zealand Army:

2 Infantry Battalions

1 Artillery Battalion (M101A1 105mm towed howitzers)

1 SAS Group (company-sized)

2 Squadrons, each consisting of a Boat Troop, a Mountain Troop and an Air Troop. Each troop consists of about 16 men.

1 Armored Regiment (APC unit equipped with 68 - M113s)

The Armored Regiment consists of a recon squadron (company) and an APC squadron. The APC squadron is similar to a USMC AAV battalion, in that it provides limited lift capability to the infantry battalions. New Zealand has ordered 105 LAV IIIs to replace the Vietnam-era M113s.

1 Engineer battalion

3 Logistics Battalions

1 Base Logistics Group

1 Field Hospital

Issues: The LAV IIIs were selected to provide interoperability with the Australian Army that is equipped with the ASLAV (LAV IIs). The purchase, initiated by the current government, has raised controversy because of the cost (about US$300m). Many in New Zealand question why the Army is getting these vehicles after the current Government claimed they could not afford the F-16s.

A second issue was why the newer LAV III design was adopted. Issues include the limited logistics commonality with the Australian ASLAVs, whether the NZ LAVs can be lifted by their Air Force C-130s, the lack of amphibious capability and limited utility in the close terrain of areas like East Timor due to size. One local publication also brought to light that an import company run by a Hungarian immigrant to New Zealand had offered to arrange the purchase of a similar number of new BTR-80s from the Hungarian government for about US$10m. The government claimed that the BTR-80s did not meet their needs (probably true) and that there were irregularities in the offer.

Speculation is that the government decided to spend the money on the LAV IIIs because it currently obligates most of the Army to the UN for peacekeeping missions, for which it is paid. The UN does not normally employ air force units.

The NZ Army is suffering a manpower shortage due to the lengthy deployment of troops (one full infantry battalion plus armor support) to the UN mission in East Timor. The government elected to retrain the artillery battalion to work a peacekeeping rotation rather than activate a third infantry battalion. The infantry battalions had been rotating six-month assignments to East Timor. A greater dependence on Territorial forces has also resulted because of the East Timor mission. 

Bumper Sticker Seen Frequently In Auckland:

May God Protect New Zealand: The Services cant and the Government wont!

-- Chuck Wohlrab




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