Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Defending What? Against Whom?

Are Armed Forces A Necessary Evil? Conservatives assert that government’s highest priority is, and must remain, the protection of its people from armed assault by foreign and/or domestic enemies. A state that can neither defend its borders, nor protect its citizens, is hardly worthy of the name. But, if national defence does not mean ensuring the basic welfare (Health, Education, Housing, Employment) of every citizen – then what does it mean?
IF POLITICS is the language of priorities, then we have been left in no doubt as to how this government ranks the importance of housing and defence. Twenty billion dollars, over the next 15 years, will be spent on weapons of war. Though the outcry against homelessness grows louder every day, hardly a voice has been raised in protest at this monstrous outlay on the NZ Defence Force.
How to explain this reluctance to compare the Government’s willingness to expend more than a billion additional dollars every year, for 15 years, on new and improved weaponry, with its unwillingness to expend a similar sum on the construction of homes for New Zealand’s poorest citizens?

No doubt conservatives would respond by asserting that government’s highest priority is, and must remain, the protection of its people from armed assault by foreign and/or domestic enemies. A state that can neither defend its borders, nor protect its citizens, is hardly worthy of the name.
Conservatives would further insist that, since a small nation like New Zealand will forever be dependent on the willingness of larger powers to come to its defence, it must be prepared to “pull its weight” military expenditure-wise. Expecting our friends to pour out their blood and treasure in our defence, when we are unwilling to do the same, is not only unrealistic – it’s morally indefensible.
But this romantic – almost chivalric – understanding of national defence bears little resemblance to the brute historical realities of international conflict. Blood and treasure are almost never poured out for purposes unrelated to either expanding the borders, or defending the interests, of the state/s doing the pouring.
If the only arguments in favour of military intervention are moral arguments, then it is most unlikely to happen. How many nations with the military capability to do so intervened in time to prevent the Rwandan genocide? None. Contrast that fatal inaction with the number of New Zealand’s “friends” who joined in the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a ruined nation which posed no threat to its neighbours – let alone its aggressors.
The eminent Jewish scientist and historian, Jacob Bronowski, described war as “organised theft”. How many equally wise scientists and historians would be prepared to argue that war is organised morality? (Acknowledging that nearly all American politicians, and an alarming number of their British and Australian counterparts, believe that war and morality go together like apple and pie!)
A more realistic assessment of New Zealand’s national security (or lack of it) would take as its starting point our extraordinary geographical isolation. So far away are we from the rest of the world that only a major military power could hope to assail our shores. That being the case, we need to ask ourselves what other major power would be willing to prevent such an assault – and why? The blunt answer is that any intervention on our behalf would be undertaken solely on strategic grounds. If the subjugation of New Zealand was deemed inimical to the interests of the United States and Australia, then they would hasten to our defence. If not, they wouldn’t. The capability and readiness of our miniscule armed forces would not materially alter their calculations. Although, it’s at least arguable that the weaker we are, the quicker they’ll come.
Perhaps, therefore, we should follow the example of Costa Rica and abolish our armed forces altogether. On 1 December 1948, following a bloody civil war, the President of Costa Rica announced the abolition of that country’s armed forces. His decision was confirmed the following year in Article 12 of the Costa Rican constitution. The monies previously spent on the military were reallocated to education and culture. The maintenance of internal security was left to the Police.
Why not do the same? We already have the SIS to warn us of terrorist attack. Protecting our fisheries could become the task of a specialised division of the Ministry of Primary Industries. Defence against cyber-attacks could, similarly, become the responsibility of a special unit within the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
Imagine the number of state houses and affordable apartments this country could build over the next 15 years with even half the $20 billion currently promised to the NZ Defence Force. Surely, in a democratic state, it is the adequate provision of health, education, housing and employment that should take priority over the vast sums required to purchase the most up-to-date weapons of war? If national defence does not mean ensuring the basic welfare of every citizen – then what does it mean?
As the Costa Rican President realised 68 years ago, if you maintain a body of armed men, then they will forever be searching for opportunities to use their weapons. If not provided with foreign foes to fight, they will start looking for enemies at home.
This essay was originally posted on the Stuff website on Monday, 13 June, and published in The Press of Tuesday, 14 June 2016.


greywarbler said...

Cris this is your last point that is at the same time the first point about 'defence' forces.

....if you maintain a body of armed men, then they will forever be searching for opportunities to use their weapons. If not provided with foreign foes to fight, they will start looking for enemies at home.

Have tool (gun), have training and simulation, need stimulation, and the fighting man and woman is ready to go. And who decides who to go for, and when? Was it you Chris that said that a British general recently made go-to-war noises while commenting that the British defence system was lacking in training, weapons and experience and he thought they needed some practice?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"If the subjugation of New Zealand was deemed inimical to the interests of the United States and Australia, then they would hasten to our defence. If not, they wouldn’t. "

God, I remember saying in an undergraduate essay years ago, this particular statement almost word for word.

But when you come to think of it, just at the moment the only country that could successfully invade New Zealand is the USA. Maybe Australia at a pinch :). Absolutely no one else has the capacity to move troops and equipment all the way to New Zealand and sustain them for any length of time. Particularly if we had a couple of submarines :).

peter petterson said...

The incoming govt may have different priorities.

Wayne Mapp said...

The $15 billion will be spent in four main areas. Replacing the 50 year old Hercles in about 5 years, replacing the 50 year old Orions around the same time, replacing the two frigates in about 15 years and getting logistics and patrol ships especially suited for the southern ocean and the Ross Sea.

Of these only the frigates and the surveillance aircraft have any real military combat capability. Aairborne surveillance in our ocean space requires 12 to 14 hours endurance. There is only one new plane that can do this and that is the P8, which is actually based on a civil airliner the 737. So while it is obviously a sophisticated military capability, it is also the only practical option to do all the SAR work and fisheries surveillance and reconnaissance flights after South Pacific disasters, etc.

So the White Paper hardly proposes the grand fighting machine that you seem to presume. Not really possible for 1% of GDP.

But I know you actually know this.

Even if NZ took the Costa Rica option the only practical difference would be frigates. Even then we would still need some capable offshore patrol vessels, since our sovereign domain is much larger than that of Costa Rica.

More importantly we would be saying to Australia that we are no longer an ally, we can't do East Timor or the Solomoms or indeed anything. Something you might be willing to do, but not an approach that appeals to me.

Nick J said...

Lets get a little real about "defence". The official line is that it is externally facing. The reality is that it faces both externally and internally as witnessed by countless coups. The military are the ultimate guarantor of state power. Yes I can hear a few of you saying but that only happens in Fiji and banana republics.....who here remembers the military laying barbed wire at rugby grounds in 1981? The Police came close to losing control and had they done so the military were close to hand. Let us not also forget the role of international connection in enforcing the political will of imperial power, for example the Pinochet coup in Chile. For the security of our realm we might be better to study what the more secure democracies such as Scandinavia do to provide for their own security to protect themselves from both their own and others militaries.

Nick J said...

Good points Wayne on Project Protector for the policing of our extensive economic zone plus on our interests in the island nations.

I would note that the joint services policing of the economic zone depends on operational funding and co-operation with government departments. The boats have been tied up with a result that without sea time sailors get no promotion or associated payrises. The Navy is bleeding personnel as a result. I have this information first hand. As you are closer to the government action Wayne you may wish to comment on this failure to deliver.

On being able to project our presence into the Pacific I agree that absenting ourselves is not an option. Nature abhors a vacuum.

jh said...

Was touring a famous Japanese battleship *Masaki* (of Japan 1 Russia 0) fame. It had an account of the Asian powers at the time who, having treaties and in a stable political period were out of touch with the Western powers. Of course the western powers had them for dinner.
Japan sure has *world class* cities, but the bottom rung live in a sea of beige. I saw a maserati and later a couple of homeless people with all their belongings in suitcases: checked out into an eternal day before leaving (with no ticket but death). There is no Salvation Army in Japan.

Woodbrook said...

Running through some of the commentary on this defense spend-up announcement are references to UN Peacekeeping, as if that does not require a substantive war-fighting capability. However, that is not the case - e.g. in the Eastern Congo, the UN forces have helicopter gunships and significant numbers of tracked armoured personnel carriers and use surveillance drones. There are battalion plus sized UN military operations there. As a UN official serving in the Eastern Congo said to me, if we had a brigade (about 4,000) of highly trained, well equipped Western troops we could stop the horrible attacks on civilians. In CAR, the very poor quality UN troops are prolonging the suffering of the civilians. It would be great if NZ created and offered a fully equipped battalion group to the UN - infantry, armour, engineers, artillery, medical, transport and gunship helicopters, drones etc.

A concern about any defense spend-up is the history of very poor cost-effectiveness in NZ defense procurement. E.g. the ANZAC frigates - the 'best informed targets afloat'. A number of years ago I did some research from publically available data on the purchase and operating costs of the ANZAC frigates versus the UK Type 23 frigate - with the ANZAC frigates a poor second on all counts, including in terms of capability.(I can't find data I had) We bought the ANZAC frigates to keep the Aussies happy and we bought the useless Steyr rifles because Australia bought them. So are we going to do the same again and buy overpriced equipment to keep the Aussies happy?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

JH. I presume you mean the battleship Mikasa at Yokosuka? Otherwise I can't understand a great deal of what you say. Particularly as no one had the Japanese "for dinner" until 1945. Japan's treatment of homeless people is disgraceful. But then so is ours.

Jh said...

Western powers colonised or forced unequal treaties on all but Thailand and one other country according to the disply on the Misata.

Jh said...

Our homeless problem is related to our liberalism:
a. Incentivising large faimilies
b. Encouraging immigration (we should be *inclusive* and thoughts about negative consequences are *xenophobic*).
Read what the head of the SWG said recently on interest.co.nz.

Anonymous said...

In the film '71, there is the telling line:

'...the army is posh cunts telling thick cunts to kill poor cunts...'

Nicely sums up the role of any Defence Force.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Western powers colonised or forced unequal treaties on all but Thailand and one other country according to the disply on the Misata."

Yes, I know. You maybe could have said that instead of "having for breakfast". You should also note that "of the time" is considerably before the period of the Mikasa. It is also true that those countries were far behind the west at that time as regards industrialisation and technology. New Zealand is not. What we are is very tiny, so anyone with the capacity to get here and sustain their armies for a fairly long period of time could in fact "have us for breakfast". And all the technology in the world is not going to prevent that. However it's extremely unlikely that anyone in the foreseeable future could do it – apart from as I said the US.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Our homeless problem is related to our liberalism:"

No, our homelessness is caused by poverty. Poverty causes large families too. Immigration might have some small effect, but I suspect the upwardly mobile buying more than one house has more. But the main driver is poverty. And that is related to our lack of liberalism.

pat said...

@ GS 13.29
"However it's extremely unlikely that anyone in the foreseeable future could do it"

Any number of powers could....provided their lines of communication remained unmolested.....predominantly by the U.S. who may have no desire to be involved.

Once here we could be rolled up in a matter of days, supply would then be a minor issue...there would of course be guerrilla action but we would remain occupied, but can think of a number of nations with the capacity,if not the inclination.....theres currently not a lot to be gained.

jh said...

But the main driver is poverty. And that is related to our lack of liberalism.
So why don't the poor is japan have large families?

jh said...

Immigration might have some small effect,
The head of the Savings Working Group says:
o Immigration inflates house prices but much of the increase in house prices reflects the large tax subsidy to investors in housing, compared with savers.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guerilla Surgeon said...

"o Immigration inflates house prices but much of the increase in house prices reflects the large tax subsidy to investors in housing, compared with savers."

Wasn't that my point?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Any number of powers could....provided their lines of communication remained unmolested.....predominantly by the U.S. who may have no desire to be involved."

I would love a link to the information you have on this. Because when I studied this at Massey, the received wisdom was that it was extremely unlikely, and that it wasn't necessary anyway. To bring New Zealand to its knees all you need to do is cut off its international trade. But some of the things I remember.

"Limited to those few countries with a carrier capability. Of these countries only the US, UK, France and Russia can mount an amphibious raid of greater than 1500 personnel."
My information might be a little out of date, so if you could update me I would be very grateful.

And if you remember the difficulties that the British had in the Falklands war? And even they could not do it without requisitioning ships. And the number of ships you would need to keep your forces supplied in New Zealand would be quite large. Which may well have an effect on the invaders trade as well as ours.

jh said...

Kerry McDonald also says:

It’s not a “housing crisis” but a comprehensive failure of policy crisis. The Minister of Finance acknowledged this, that policy was ill founded and unsustainable, (public comment, 7 June, 2016) when he stated that slowing immigration would put house prices at risk!

The high rate of immigration is a national disaster. It is lowering the present and future living standards of New Zealanders by serious adverse economic, social and environmental consequences.

- Auckland is not economically viable; the rest of New Zealand would have a higher living standard without it.

pat said...


"Limited to those few countries with a carrier capability. Of these countries only the US, UK, France and Russia can mount an amphibious raid of greater than 1500 personnel."

when you studied this I am assuming we still had a strike arm in the airforce....why you assume any force needs to be amphibious god only knows....if it came to it securing a suitable airstrip would suffice and simply fly in the troops and immediate support, via requisitioned civilian aircraft if necessary...we have a grand total of 4500 army personal including support.

comparing an invasion of NZ with the Falklands conflict is disingenuous to say the least...the Argentineans had air support and although they hadn't landed the troops they intended to they had a force significantly stronger than the NZDF and importantly it was intact and operational....you choose to ignore thee fact i qualified the premise by noting the supply line was unmolested due to no outside support (the US in the main) another feature absent from the Falklands conflict.

J Bloggs said...

GS: you can add China to that list as well

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Limited to UK (Total Troop Lift capability 3887), Fr (2660), China (9050), US (42,483), Russia (5252) . An amphibious assault at this level would most likely be accompanied by supporting aircraft carrier cover, given its significance size"

Yes of course, they are going to fly troops thousands of miles after securing a suitable airstrip. I'm sorry this is just fantasy in my opinion. And while we don't have an air force anymore so much, we do have anti-aircraft capability. And who is going to cover this operation without a carrier?

I should have been more clear about the Falklands. I wasn't talking about the tactical difficulty some much as the strategic ones. The Brits almost couldn't put together a force, because they didn't have or were in the process of getting rid of much of their capability. It was to say the least a ragtag bunch of requisitioned ships. Many of which were not particularly fit for purpose. If it wasn't for the superior training of British forces they would have been soundly beaten.
And you ignore the fact that I said "if we had a couple of submarines." But even without them it would be difficult.
In fact documents show that the Japanese Navy claimed that they didn't have the capability to support an invasion of New Zealand. Now that may have been for internal political purposes, but they would have at least had to have put forward a case. And if they couldn't do it, I doubt if anyone outside the Americans would consider anything more than a harassing raid – as the Japanese did.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"So why don't the poor is japan have large families?"
Good question, and I jumped in before I'd considered it. The first thing I would say would be – how do you know they don't? Comparatively speaking.
But let's assume that they don't.
My previous post was a too general. I should have said something like poverty can cause large families or poverty tends to cause large families. This is particularly apparent in places which have had generational poverty. Parts of Britain, parts of the US, much of the developing world.
In the developing world you can see why poor people have large families, because children can be put to work fairly early, bring money into the family, and are an insurance against old age. Plus there may be extremely limited access, to or even knowledge of birth control and/or abortion. In the developed world I suspect it's more to do with lack of education, and lack of access to birth control. Particularly in the US, where it's complicated by their medical insurance system.

Two countries which don't seem to follow this pattern are Russia and Japan. An increase in poverty in Russia since the 1980s caused a decline in the birthrate. I suspect this is because the USSR had always made birth control and abortion freely available, with few cultural barriers to using them. But also, the sort of extreme poverty you see in capitalist societies – as far as I know – didn't exist so much in Russia under communism. So there hasn't been the intergenerational poverty.
Japan similarly hasn't had the intergenerational poverty. Because since World War II they've been relatively prosperous. There poverty also stems from the 1980s. But society in Japan places great shame on poverty, coupled with traditional easy access to birth control and abortion.
In fact poor people may have larger families than average in Japan I don't know exactly, but there is I know a problem with unregistered children, who don't show up in statistics.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Er.... Carrier operations? China? Yes they have a refurbished Russian carrier, which in fact used to be a tourist attraction in Shenzhen :). I understand they've refurbished it since I had a look around it, but it has neither the range nor the capabilities to do anything as far away from China as New Zealand is. And yes, they are building more, but we don't know much about their capabilities, particularly their Bluewater capabilities. Again, if they're anything like Russian carriers they have a very short range.
And of course, if we ought Chinese made "carrier killer" missiles, we wouldn't have a problem either. :)
Or submarines. In every US naval exercise, unless the submarines are restricted in some way – they always sink the carrier.
But the whole thing is an exercise in fantasy. I still think on the best evidence available, the only country that could sustain an invasion of New Zealand would be the USA.

pat said...


the japanese never developed an invasion plan of NZ for the simple reason they were already overextended occupying a large portion of China, Korea, Burma, the Philippines , Malaysia, Taiwan and various other pacific and asian states.....and still managed a couple of raids on mainland Australia.....while at war with the US,Britain and the Commonwealth.

As with the Falklands the problem would not be the original occupation which was achieved with ease by the Argentineans it was mounting a counter invasion with long supply lines by a force with ,as you point out, a limited capability.

There would be no need for direct initial air support and once landing and port facilities secured any and all heavy equipment could be provided as necessary, not that much would be needed.....

"However it's extremely unlikely that anyone in the foreseeable future could do it – "

as stated there are a number of military forces around the world with the capacity....that is not that it is imminent or even likely
and requires an absence of assistance for us from various quarters, but nothing is guaranteed in this world.....the point is our defence force (even with 20 billion of new gear) is not designed to defend these islands from invasion and never has been.....not without assistance.

Robert M said...

it is certainly true that NZ could never have defended itself from invasion and the arguments that the rebuilding the NZ Army was justified on the grounds it might by the likes of academic doctor , Peter Greener ( Vic Uni, strategic and defence studies) are absurd. Observation of the few 9.2, 6inch and 3.7 inch that were intalled in NZ buy 1941 and the few coastal defence bunkers that were installed make it clear they were useless and would have stopped nothing. Helen Clarks plans for rebuilding the Army always seemed to me pointless and undesirable,and I couldn't believe it when she wasted $700 million on the useless LAV3 APCs and actuallys seemed massively expanding the employment of low grade, low IQ white men in the military. It seemed to me that one of the main lessons of WW2 is that such men served no purpose in the Brtish and American Army and lacked the skill and courage to ever much even fire their guns againt German or SS Units. The Germans and Russians have since the 1930s have put their best and brightest in the infantry the same in submarines, in the US, UK and Australia. The crisis point in the history of Nazi Germany is that neither the SS or the German Army would accept ordinary men for most military functions on any terms.( The result was that Hitler gained real power for the first time after Kristalnight and the extermination of the Jews proceeded simply for the criminal reasons that if would fund an expanded german welfare state and subsidided jobs for the stupid the military didnt want) It is actually simply impossible to fight or operate the way serious German or Russian military units fight withour a minium IQ of 180 because the way they fight depends on every infantry man knowing what to do automatically, and automatically following order. with the average British or US unit in France the main problem is that two thirds of the men are likely to break in terror and run backwards, at any moment as the standard methods of discipline in a dictatatorship, execution and the gauntlet can not used

Robert M said...

For the last 40 years NZ has not been of military interest, since the British withdrawal from SE Asia and Nixons Guam declaration.
In the 1960s and early 1970s NZ was of some significane as a series or ports and airfields which could help the Americans and RN and RAF defend Australai. We served as a place for US R & R for the sailors fighting off Vietnam with three strike aircraft carriers America, Intrepid and Shangri La visiting Wellington in 1968-70. There were significant US Military bases in NZ at the time Harewood, Washdyke and Mt John.
Our main role was supporting the Royal Navy which wind down in involvement with the RNZN and RAN was more gradual than official policy, until the Falklands war and the intensifying Cold War in the 1980's took them elsewhere. For this reason and lack of desire to requip with USN Knox class and FFG-7s our defence effort seemed to have lost its purpose
Today the United States is vastly weaker and it real naval capability is declining as fast as that of Russia. Indeed the Russian submarines tactical weapons, crewing and design may now be superior. The US navy has sold its last frigate and is mainly geared to middle east littoral operations with cruisers and destroyers increasingly used as mobile ABM platforms. The ageing US cruisers fleet and its vulnerable carriers may not be capable of saving us. As a number of bloggers say we could be quickly seized by a small ambibious forces off cruisers, large trawlers, cruise ships or submarines. The rationale for attacking us would be to seize us as a mobile aircraft carriers with air control from Auckland to South China flying off long range Migs in support of long range Russian aviation Backfires and Blackjacks. Should such a force be established here they would be difficult to remove without extensive use of nuclear weapons as the RAAF is entirely lacking the aircraft with the range and power.
The Russian military remain a milenial force driven by traditional military bloodline philosophy. In essence they live to fight and fuck young women, by the score. No differerent from classical Grand prix drivers. The Royal Navy immediately sailed south to the Falklands depite the certainty that the only rational conclusion of the superiority of the Argentine Airforce and Argentine Naval Enterdads and Skyhawks, operating from the Argentine, was the complete destruction of the Royal Navy , this was my analysis as the fleet sailed south that the Royal Navy and little conventional AA capbility, that Seaslug and Seacat were useless and unlikely to down a single aircraft and the Sea Dart and Seawolf missiles and channels were too few , to defend against multiple attack. RAF and US War College analysis as the fleet sailed south ( released immediately after wthe War ) was that total loss of the RN fleet was the only likely result.As a junior Rn officer in WW2 my father noted, with some horror, that on destroyers many of the permanent RN officers only real wish was to die in glory like the crew of HMS Hotspur taking their destroyer into the face of the Schnarhorst or Bismark in a kamikazee, suicidal torpedo attack. Even in 1982 the Royal Navy fleet sailed south , determied to save the fleet from Thatcherite status and preserve their officer mana and status. The first lord of the RN at the time of Suez and CDS immediately afterwards,Earl Mountbatten, told his officers immediately afterwards, that given any opportunity to fight or use the RN again, there would be no repeat of the fiasco. Given any crisis the fleet would be at sea immediately, and once at sea it would not be stopped. Rather than any logistics build up everythig would be thrown aboard within 36 hours and the carriers would move immediately. THe Russian military remain a professional force and given the opportunity to take the fleet to sea at the last opportunity to be used within the timescale of 30 years after the end of the cold war ( 1992-2022) the likely lifestpan of major equipment is not wise to think they would not try.

Robert said...

Guerilla, the US Marines have invaded South Canterbury twice in the last five years putting several thousand marines ashore in Operation Southern Katipo 1 & 2 from ampibious ships. Unnoticed by the rest of the country of course. US Intelligence Operations are also very present around Molesworth St, with doubtlessly 95% of the cost of the NZ GCSB being financed by the US Governments intelligence budget. The scale of the huge establishment opposite Wellington Girls college could never be funded by the NZ defence budget for a minute. The pubs and cafes in the Thorndon are often full of high ranking and flag officers of the RN and RAN and to a lesser extent of other cousin services. Even the most casual observer could not fail to notice this.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The Germans and Russians have since the 1930s have put their best and brightest in the infantry "

Have you got a reference for this? Because in my humble opinion, no one puts their best and brightest in the infantry. Even the Waffen SS as far as I know had no IQ test for getting in. They seem to be more concerned with whether you had fillings in your teeth, and how far back you could trace your ancestry. And the Russians seem to be more concerned with putting their best and brightest into concentration camps – at least pre-world War two.

"It seemed to me that one of the main lessons of WW2 is that such men served no purpose in the Brtish and American Army and lacked the skill and courage to ever much even fire their guns againt German or SS Units. "

Indeed, many American and British troops didn't fire their weapons. But if you think it's something to do with their IQ, I would like a reference. Because I think you're making shit up – again. But again, in most armies the actual fighting is done by very few troops, and the rest merely follow along. Or if those few are killed or wounded, sometimes run away.

"destroyers many of the permanent RN officers only real wish was to die in glory "

Funny, my father was in destroyers in World War II any never heard any such thing. Nor was any such activity engaged in by the destroyers he was on. The only blaze of glory people were the Japanese kamikazes who tried to kill him in late 1944 or early 1945. So the possibility exists that one or the other of the said relatives was in the only ship that either wanted to go down in a blaze of glory or just did their damn job.

"THe Russian military remain a professional force "

I'm not quite sure what that whole sentence means, but the Russian military has traditionally been a conscript force, and consequently terribly inefficient. Since it became more of a volunteer force, it's still terribly inefficient. It is investing more heavily in equipment, but at least one of the military commentators I read claimed that the Poles alone could probably see them off if they invaded. I'm not sure if that's correct, but on the other hand Robert I'm not sure that you know a great deal more than them. Particularly if – and if I understand you correctly – you predicted that the British naval force that went to the Falklands would be destroyed.

I'm not sure at all what your comment at 15: 03 is meant to say. I did say that I thought the Americans were probably the only ones who could do a decent job of invading New Zealand. Whether they are infiltrating through the cafes in Thorndon or not I wouldn't care to speculate.

Robert M said...

Actually at the time of the Falklands war I was working at the Waimate CC on a project for the Waitaki Dev Committe, an OUP Anthropology Dept under Professor Ruth Houghton and the Waimate County Council on issues in relation to proposed network of hydro electricity producing cannals off the the Lower Waitaki. We often disussed the impending Falklands war with the staff at the hourlong tea breaks and lunch who included many people later prominent in local government Wayne Rout, Janet Hewson and Makr Dacombe who I think alter worker under Harvey in West Auckland. I certainly predicted the probability that the fleet would be lost and immediately after the war I received letters from my relatives in North Carolina and the UK about the RAF and S War College. I had an aunt in Chapel Hill/Carboro whose second husband was connected with US Intelligence and her son was a RN Junior officer serving on HMS Sheffield in the prelude to the conflict. Similar information and comment was released in the UK media later that year.
In terms of destroyers I remember my father telling me that he served at Sea on a Hunt class destroyer about 1941-2 and later wss an intelligence officer on HMS Kledive an escort carrier modified for a command role in the South of France Operation Anvil. As he spoke fluent French he would have been idea for certain on the ground liason role. He was involved with this project for a long time travelling across the US to Tacoma or wherever the carrier was built and spending significant time in NY where the war was effectively planned.
The correct comment or typo in relation to IQ was I said or should have, that an IQ of about 108 was probably required to fight the Germans or Russians if you think about the reality of fighting in the tank/infantry battles of say Kursk. I obviously wasn't there, but if you study film of that battle or say the crossing of the River Meuse you will see that the automatic coordination and ability to move fast without waiting for orders is essential to the way such battles and operations are fought- and catually i think intelligence has quite a lot to do with it.
My understanding the general requirements to be a Waffen SS Combat soldier were 5ft 11 inch height, good looks and high IQ. Somebody sufficiently impressive that women would take there pants off immmediately as their main purpose was to change the French into Germans peacefully which may of course be part of the reason for peace over the last 30 years. My underestanding is that there was little difference in the physical, IQ and ideoplogical requirements of SS and German Army officers. The actual difference was that generally in the branches of the real SS they were expected to be very good looking. And also in the tradtional branches of the Geramn military much of the officer core was very conservative socially and sexually officially and often in practice demanding life long marriage where the SS philosophy and indeed that of Hitler was the opposite.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"My understanding the general requirements to be a Waffen SS Combat soldier were 5ft 11 inch height, good looks and high IQ."
Then your understanding is incorrect. The height limit of 1.7 m or 1.68 (around 5 foot 9) depending on who you read only applied to the Leibstandarte. In fact the height limit for mountain troops was just over 5 foot 3.
There was absolutely no requirement for good looks, just Aryan looks. If you'd seen some of the photographs of some the recruits you would notice this. Not to mention that the standards were relaxed, particularly after 1942. All sorts of people were then conscripted.
And there were certainly no stated IQ requirements.

"an IQ of about 108 was probably required to fight the Germans or Russians "

Are you kidding? Army training is designed to turn morons into fighting machines. The infantry's IQ requirements were low, and while there were some people that were un-trainable – there weren't many. Jesus wept, even the American army today has an IQ limit of about 85. The Russians had to make do with illiterate peasants for much of their infantry for Christ's sake. Which is why there are equipment tended to be very simple. The Americans at least had the advantage that almost all of their recruits could drive.

"their main purpose was to change the French into Germans "

Christ almighty where do you get this stuff from? Without a reference, I am going to call this "making shit up."

I'm not quite sure what relevance your father's qualifications have to this "discussion". My father was an able seaman, and the only qualifications he seemed to have had was being shot at a lot. By Germans, by Italians, by Japanese, and at least once by Russians by mistake. They did however give him a medal to make up for it. :)

Robert M said...

To basics guerilla surgeon my view is the NZ defence budget should be spent on relatively sophisticated air and naval equipment and the army should be replaced by a essentially unarmed civil defence and disaster relief coastguard. The current army is far too small be useful and is seriously racially divided. Possibly some elements of the current army could be used as seaborne or airborne marines for a while but I would prefer to reconfigure the transport ship HMS Canterbury (L421) as a helicopter carrier.
I doubt there is much point in NZ having anti submarine frigates as effective

submarines are too quiet now to be tracked by frigates and a frigate making a fast moving puddle in the ocean is about the least effective means of finding submarines for which you need a lot of combined resources of air and sea assets and towed or fixed arrays. Possibly the American and Soviet nuclear submarines will all exhaust themselves shortly or be destroyed in a purely sea battle. I am very much opposed to nuclear power but regard nuclear weapons as essentially until the Russian Navy collapses and the rise of China is checked. My strategy for that is pure General MacArthur and Le May. My own view is that MacArthur had the correct strategy in 1970. In terms of IQ about 170 would be a fair estimate for McArthur and Robert A Lee, the highest recorded at West Point. In my view any war with China will be a naval skirmish followed by a nuclear exchange followed by a blockade of US Civil War intensity until the Chinese population is halved.
Technologically I think were going backwards in terms of warfare technology and future wars will be mainly land wars and naval and air technology will be much simpler- although there remains the possibility of post nuclear naval war between Japan and Australasia in about 60s. My view of the Nazi's is whatever Hitler thought there aim was to implement Galtons theory of intelligence literally, in that they regarded the dumber 50% of men as retarded and to be phased out. In broad terms they regarded what

they called a Jew as not an ideological, racial or religious term but any left wing intellectual who believed in the blank slate theory. I must say I am immensely pleased that Boris Johnsone and Falange are making a strong run.
i stand by my view that the Nazi and SS Army were selected on looks and IQ, there whole point was to present superior breeding stock to women and Goring and Heyndrich believed they would not even have to fight. It was probably the case as horizontal collaboration was massive in France and the Resistance hardly existed until well into 1944, and was never exactly about support for the British or Americans. I've always thought Charlotte Rampling's performance in the Night Porter rather glorious and displaying an element of inevitably unacceptable truth