New Zealand’s Strategic
An enigmatic approach to
An imperial past
• The legacy
• Since 1840: 100 years within
• Upheavals: WWI, WW2
• End of British Empire:
continuing collective security
• Not a vacuum
• Practitioners: do strategy, however
imperfectly, in the face of constantly
• Strategy over four decades…
• Flexibility, continuity, discontinuity,
The New Zealand
• Tension of apparent/actual
• Extent of NZ’s direct geography.
• Thin dimensions of NZ’s trading
interests: thin and long threads,
• Alliances (CP, ANZUS, FPDA), direct
obligations, indirect obligations.
Northern & Southern
• Cook Is. & Nuie & Tokelaus
• Ocean area larger than F & T.
• Sub-antarctic: Ak Is, Campbell
• Ross Dependency beyond 60 dg
• Australian Antarctic Territory
• More than half Antarctica…
• North Pole…
• Strength, merits & difficulties of
• Recognition of NZ priorities.
• Constantly fitting in… with
• Mutual interest, seldom single
• Is different for NZ than for
• Maximisation of gains and
minimisation of losses.
• Taking measures to do this, &
letting advantage fall NZ’s way.
• Underlying approach to use of
the armed forces: dictated by
• NZ does not have the economic,
diplomatic, or military strength
to easily act alone.
• Both actual (geographical) &
NZ armed forces in
• RNZAF, RNZN, NZ Army
• 3 professional services: operational
• With other armed forces…
• Own patrols…
• Interoperability between our own
services & with others is the key.
• Strategic intentions signalled
partially by capabilities maintained.
• Unspoken assumption: USN, ADF.
Foreign Policy & operation
of the armed services
• Foreign policy is not just trade,
although trade is a core
• The Austronesian (ANZ + Pac Is)
• The wider realms: distant
places, varying roles…
Promotion of NZ’s
• Grappling with different matters
in wide variety of places.
• Gaining long-term advantage.
• Working to prevent diminution
of those interests.
Future directions for
NZ’s armed forces
• Patrol of the bits of the neighbourhood that
belong to NZ + assisting others in distant
• From tropics to Antarctic: a necessarily
Australasian series of enterprises + other
powers (US, France, Britain…)
• Flexibility to be increased.
• Frequency of MRCs: less lead time.
• Low level/small campaigns/wars; larger
• Awareness of the unlikely possibilities as
well as the likely (CTKP).
• Breadth & depth argument: future will
Where & how
• Bipartisan approaches &
• The local, the regional, & further
• Geography is king: physical &
• Breadth of NZ’s commitments
exemplifies our requirement for
engagement: ultimately this comes
down to freedom to trade & direct
Shaping the practice of
• Political context: within & outside NZ: sets
• Absolute requirement to reflect as well as
to practice within the daily pressures.
• If the practice of strategy becomes
defunct: risk of becoming an adjunct of
others powers’ strategy.
• To a degree NZ is always vulnerable to
• NZ response has generally been to take
cases on merits: strengths & flaws in this
• The irrational
• No-one has a monopoly on wisdom
• Fast moving pace of events require
thoughtful contemplation of all sorts
of circumstances (most of which
won’t occur) long before an
• The foreseen & the
• Less directly difficult when
strategy done with partners…
• Likely to be more difficult with
Dealing with unfavourable
• An inability to be able to
effectively respond, not just NZ
but crucially, other usual
• Dec.1941 one manifestation: 5
mths in 1942 an absolute
The Nuclear future…
• Nuclear war.
• WMD troubles.
• Major regional conflict interventions
involve nuclear armed powers.
• Nuclear power.
Interstate limited war
• One state against a collection
• Collection against collection
• Flexiblity of coalitions: less trouble
about getting formed & started:
• More difficult to end.
• Long term commitment…
• Discretionary warfare: Middle East
• Necessary war: Australia
• Other commitments along the
• Greater the trouble, the more intractable
the problems are???
• Help under these circumstances.
• Management of intractable situations…
• Long term commitment.
• Discretion: to go in, to leave, to stay out.
• Outcomes: serving NZ’s interests + those
of the international community.
Use of resources in
• Deleterious effects: to effectively
contribute, need to minimise ongoing
damage to NZ’s own resources.
• Increase in size, number of
Next 40 years…
• Position of the United • Demographic
• China/India rivalry. • Economic depression.
• Reg. nuclear war. • Environmental shifts.
• China/Taiwan Korean • Simultaneous conflicts
Pen. on different levels of
• Fiji. war.
• Pac Is. • Political change in
• Possession of maritime major states…
• Middle East.
The bleak future
• The disruptive world.
• A disrupted neighbourhood.
• Military, political, economic,
upheavals in series…
• Weak powers even at a distance
will be challenged.
• To avoid being merely reactive.
• To minimize impact of situations of
disadvantage to NZ.
• Contributions: military, diplomatic,
economic, political, social.
• Keeping challenges away: distant
solutions are better for NZ: assisted
by physical geography (but in
modern warfighting, distance is not
an absolute guarantee).
Into the murk…
• NZ has some discretion thanks to
geography & two shields…
• Setting priorities but considering the
widest range of possibilities,
• Bedrock geography: NZ is a maritime
nation, & needs maritime partners
(great & small).
• China, India, US, Russia, Britain,
France, Germany, Japan, SE Asia,
• NZ’s strategic perspective is
• Promotion of distant peace &
security protects NZ’s vital interests
abroad (trade) & at home.
• If the sea is a highway, NZ needs to
be the secure farm at the end of the
• This will only be the case with
careful attention to strategy, &
continued good fortune.