America's military faces reductions in force and spending that could have a ripple effect. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world's sea services: Some see U.S. global naval engagement diminishing and the world's power structure realigning itself over the coming decade. In what ways would this affect your navy?
In its Defence White Paper 2010, New Zealand’s government acknowledged that the cost to the United States of maintaining its military preeminence has increased to the point where it may seek to reduce its discretionary international commitments while expecting other nations to share more of the security and stabilization load. For New Zealand, the practical significance of this reality is clearly laid out in this excerpt from the “Wellington Declaration,” signed by New Zealand and the United States in November 2010: “The United States-New Zealand strategic partnership is to have two fundamental elements: a new focus on practical cooperation in the Pacific region; and enhanced political and subject-matter dialogue.”
The need to work toward a secure, stable and prosperous Pacific region has heavily influenced the development of New Zealand’s maritime defense capabilities. While maintaining combat capabilities in the form of two ANZAC-class MEKO 200 frigates, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) has recently acquired an amphibious sealift ship and two offshore patrol vessels that will enhance our capacity across a wide spectrum of maritime operations, including exclusive economic zone protection and disaster relief in support of our neighbors. Complementary air surveillance and airlift capabilities in the form of updated P-3K2 Orion and C-130H Hercules aircraft and new NH90 helicopters further enhance that capacity. That capability mix ensures that New Zealand is in a good position to carry its share of the maritime security load in the region in partnership with all like-minded nations, but in particular, the United States and Australia.
Although U.S. commitments may preclude the regular physical presence of ships and aircraft in our region, recent experience has shown that small-scale personnel detachments are invaluable in terms of sharing knowledge and experience, and critically, in building the strong ties of friendship which do so much to aid effective cooperation, particularly in an emergency. In addition, New Zealand is a longstanding participant in the Pacific Partnership series of aid-related deployments; again, much invaluable knowledge and experience has thereby been gained and shared.
In summary, New Zealand looks to pull its weight in the Pacific region in partnership with the United States. We will also seek to contribute when we can to U.S.-led, U.N.-mandated international coalitions where maritime security is threatened. In so doing the Royal New Zealand Navy looks forward to building on its long-standing historical ties with the U.S. Navy.