NZLII Home | Databases | WorldLII | Search | Feedback

New Zealand Yearbook of International Law

University of Canterbury
You are here:  NZLII >> Databases >> New Zealand Yearbook of International Law >> 2004 >> [2004] NZYbkIntLaw 16

Database Search | Name Search | Recent Articles | Noteup | LawCite | Help

Conte, Alex --- "New Zealand Defence Force Activity" [2004] NZYbkIntLaw 16; (2004) 1 New Zealand Yearbook of International Law 321

New Zealand defence Force Operations1

Alex Conte*

I. Introduction

The Defence Policy Framework, issued by the Government in June 2000, highlights the Government’s goals and priorities for defence and provides a framework for future decisions about military capabilities, resources and funding. It has been supplemented by the Government Defence Statement of May 2001 in regard to a Modern, Sustainable Defence Force Matched to New Zealand’s needs.

Defence is one component of New Zealand’s foreign and security policy. While the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is constitutionally the sole provider of military forces, it is not the sole contributor to strategic outcomes for national security. A range of other Government Departments and Agencies, including for example the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Customs and Immigration Services, the Government Communications Security Bureau and the Ministry of Fisheries, all contribute to promoting and protecting New Zealand’s national security.

In the Government’s Defence Policy Framework five broad strategic outcomes for national security are endorsed. From these, a defence policy objective is set for each outcome. In achieving these objectives, the NZDF makes a range of contributions: it maintains operationally prepared forces for use by the Government and it carries out operational missions in accordance with Government direction.

Two relevant sets of defence policy objectives and strategic outcomes are identified by the Defence Force as follows:2

Defence Policy Objective: To play an appropriate role in the maintenance of security in the Asia-Pacific region, including meeting our obligations as a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
Strategic Outcome: An expanding role in the regional dialogue of South East and North East Asia and, where appropriate, a role in regional security consistent with New Zealand's interests and capabilities.
Defence Policy Objective: To contribute to global security and peacekeeping through participation in the full range of United Nations and other appropriate multilateral peace support and humanitarian relief operations. Strategic Outcome: A global approach which supports New Zealand’s place in an international community committed to the maintenance of human rights and the collective security responsibilities enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and which strengthens New Zealand’s international economic linkages.

In his review of significant military operations in the year to the end of June 2003, the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshall Fergusson, said this:3

Despite the withdrawal of our major commitment to Timor Leste, several new operations as well as our continuing commitment to ongoing peace support operations have seen the NZDF maintain a high operational tempo throughout the year.
After three years’ service the Infantry Battalion Group and RNZAF helicopter detachment were withdrawn from Timor Leste in November 2002 and commenced the regeneration of conventional military capabilities. The international citations awarded to No 3 Squadron RNZAF are a reflection of the high regard in which all our forces in Timor Leste were held, and of the overall success of this multinational operation.
Our long-term commitment to the Bougainville peace process was successfully concluded on 30 June 2003 when the Peace Monitoring Group handed over to the civilian Bougainville Transition Team. New Zealand played a pivotal role in the peace process, from hosting peace talks on board HMNZS ENDEAVOUR in 1990 and at Burnham Military Camp in 1997, to our deployment of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel from 1997 until 2003.
During the year HMNZ Ships TE KAHA and TE MANA deployed for tours of operational duty in the Gulf, and a P3 Orion and C130 Hercules are also deployed in the region. In Afghanistan NZDF staff officers continue to serve in the coalition headquarters, while in Iraq NZ Army mine action specialists are assisting the UN Mine Action Service with clearance programmes. Our sailors, soldiers and airmen have received praise for their very high level of professionalism, adding to New Zealand’s reputation as a good international citizen.
We have also continued our other global commitments to Peace Support Operations. NZDF personnel remain deployed on 13 other Peace Support Missions in the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, South East Asia, and Timor Leste. Our personnel are employed as UN Military Observers, Mine Action advisors, Trainers, on military liaison duties and in command and staff appointments.
New commitments include a 100 strong NZDF tri-service Provincial Reconstruction Team that is about to deploy to Bamian in Afghanistan, while NZ Army Engineers are preparing to deploy to assist with humanitarian reconstruction in Iraq. The experience gained over our three years of support to the Timor Leste peace process will prove invaluable as we prepare to assist the Solomon Islands Government to restore law and order and rebuild their institutions. Our contribution of four helicopters together with logistics, communications, engineer and medical personnel will play a key role in facilitating civil and humanitarian assistance.

The Annual Report of the NZ Defence Force identifies the following operational missions undertaken by it around the world, encompassing operations in the Pacific, Antarctic, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa:4

II. Operationally Deployed Forces in the Pacific

A. New Zealand Force in East Timor (UNMISET)

The International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) was an Australian led deployment force to East Timor in October 1999. INTERFET was replaced by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) in February 2000. Following the recognition of Independence on 20 May 2002, the mission name was changed to the United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET). The NZDF maintained an Infantry Battalion Group and a Helicopter Detachment in East Timor since September 1999. Approximately 675 NZDF and civilian personnel were deployed to East Timor at any one time with an additional 30 deployed to Darwin, Australia in a support role. This commitment ceased in November 2002, when the Infantry Battalion Group and the Helicopter Detachment returned to New Zealand.

B. United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET) — Operation KORU

The NZDF has deployed military observers to East Timor since October 1999. There are currently four military observers deployed throughout East Timor. They conduct a variety of tasks including border liaison, facilitation of meetings, patrols, and visiting remote villages and sites. Four NZDF personnel (two Navy and two Army) are assigned to headquarters UNMISET staff positions and a further two Army personnel to the newly formed NZ National Support Element in Dili. The staff officers assist in coordination duties for the peacekeeping forces under the control of HQ UNMISET. The National Support Element in Dili facilitates the movement of all New Zealand personnel and equipment in and out of East Timor and provides the national link between the NZDF and HQ UNMISET. A New Zealand Training Advisory Team, comprising one Navy, eight Army and one Air Force personnel, is based in Metinaro and Dili and assists in training within the East Timor Defence Force. A Theatre Extraction Team comprising 54 Army and civilian personnel deployed to East Timor over the period August to December 2002 to clean and then re-deploy stores and equipment from East Timor to New Zealand.

C. Peace Monitoring Group (PMG), Bougainville —
Operation BELISI II

The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) was an Australian led deployment to monitor the cease-fire agreement between warring Bougainville factions. New Zealand led a Truce Monitoring Group, which deployed to Bougainville in November 1997. In April 1998 the Monitoring Group was succeeded by the Australian led PMG of 195 personnel. In July 2001 the PMG was down-sized to 75 personnel, and reduced from six to two operational bases, as a precursor to eventually exiting Bougainville and handing over to a civilian led organisation. Nineteen NZDF personnel (including four dedicated weapons disposal personnel) filled a variety of operational, administrative and logistic appointments until the PMG was withdrawn on 30 June 2003.

D. Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI),
Solomon Islands — Operation RATA

Operation Rata commenced in late July 2003, following a request for assistance to restore law and order from the Solomon Islands Government. The Regional Assistance Mission has the support of the Pacific Island Forum, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations. Over 2000 police, military and civilian personnel from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea are currently serving there. New Zealand’s initial contribution was a detachment of four Iroquois helicopters, crews, engineering and support staff, plus additional staff in support of the Australian led mission.

III. Operationally Deployed Forces in the Antarctic

This mission operates from August to February each year and involves teams of personnel supporting activities of Antarctica New Zealand and the United States Antarctic Programme, within New Zealand and on the Antarctic continent. A total of 92 NZDF personnel provided terminal and logistic support operations at Christchurch, McMurdo Station and Scott Base for varying periods during the Austral summer season. Sixteen NZDF personnel deployed to Antarctica from October 2002. Twenty-seven additional personnel deployed during February 2002 to conduct ship off-load operations and environmental maintenance tasks. All NZDF personnel returned to New Zealand by 17 February 2003. The Royal New Zealand Air Force conducted fourteen C-130 Hercules sorties to Antarctica in support of the New Zealand scientific projects. One unplanned flight provided support to the US Air Force over the period 8 to 10 March 2003 to uplift US and other New Zealand personnel after a pipeline-laying activity at McMurdo Sound.

IV. Operationally Deployed Forces in Asia

A. Support to Multinational Operations against Trans-National
Terrorism in Afghanistan and Related Areas — Operation ARIKI

New Zealand Defence Force personnel were deployed to the Coalition Joint Task Force Headquarters in Bagram, Afghanistan. NZDF staff officers and an Air Loading Team provided New Zealand’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The Air Loading Team returned to New Zealand in August 2002. Four NZDF personnel were deployed to the ISAF Headquarters in Kabul as staff officers in the support, works, plans and mine awareness areas. An Army Engineer Assessment Team was deployed to Afghanistan from September to December 2002, providing site survey assistance to the Coalition Joint Civil/Military Organisation Task Force. Special Air Service personnel served in Afghanistan during the reporting period. A NZDF C-130 Hercules aircraft, support crew and an air loading team deployed to Kyrgyzstan on 23 June 2003 as New Zealand’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in and around Afghanistan.

The ANZAC Frigate HMNZS TE KAHA was deployed on Maritime Interdiction Operations contributing to the multinational effort against trans-national terrorism in the Middle East. The ship was involved in surveillance, escort and intercept/boarding operations primarily in and around the Straits of Hormuz, as part of a Canadian led coalition Task Group. TE KAHA was relieved by her sister ship TE MANA in late February 2003. A three-person shore support team provided liaison and logistics support to the deployed ship. A NZDF P-3K Orion maritime patrol aircraft deployed to the Gulf of Oman in May 2003, conducting Maritime Interdiction Operations in the Arabian Sea.

B. Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) — Operation CAMBER

In December 1991 the NZDF committed two 10-person engineering training teams to Cambodia, as part of UNTAC, to train Cambodians in de-mining skills. This deployment was a precursor to the establishment of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Training Centre in 1993. New Zealand has provided two officers to CMAC since 1996 in positions of Technical Advisor (Operations) to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre at Kampong Chhnang, and Technical Advisor (Logistics) to CMAC headquarters in Phnom Penh.

C. Unexploded Ordnance Laos (UXOL) — Operation LAXUS

The United Nations De-mining Program (UNDP) has provided management and institutional support to the Laotian Unexploded Ordnance program since 1995. The NZDF provided two officers as Senior Technical Advisors (Operations and Logistics) to UXOL headquarters from 1997 until May 2003 to assist staff development and formalise processes in support of the UXOL program in Laos.

D. New Zealand Contingent in Korea (NZCK)

Eleven personnel departed New Zealand in March 2003 for a six-month tour with the United Nations Command Honour Guard Company in Seoul. They worked alongside US, UK, Turkish and Korean Honour Guard Elements.

V. Operationally Deployed Forces in the Middle East

A. United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Iraq — Operation NETTLE

Thirteen NZDF personnel provided medical and communications support to UNMOVIC between November 2002 and March 2003. All NZDF personnel were withdrawn to Cyprus on the outbreak of the war in Iraq, and they have subsequently returned to New Zealand.

B. NZDF Support to the Multinational Reconstruction Effort
in Iraq — Operation HAVEN

The NZDF contributes de-mining specialists (advisers and trainers) under the United Nations Mine Action Service programme in Iraq. Two officers deployed in late May 2003 (one as an Operations Officer in Baghdad and the other as a Liaison Officer in Basra).

C. Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), Sinai —
Operation FARAD

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is an eleven-nation commitment based at El Gorah in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. The MFO monitors the implementation of the Treaty of Peace signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979. The MFO function is one of observation, reporting, and investigation of alleged Treaty violations. The NZDF commitment commenced in 1982 with a helicopter detachment and, in more recent years, the NZDF has continued to contribute a 26-person contingent that provides expertise in MFO operations and training. Personnel fill headquarters staff, engineer, logistics and training team appointments. A new NZDF appointment, Deputy Force Transportation Officer, has been filled from May 2003.

D. United Nations Truce and Supervisory Organisation (UNTSO) — Operation SCORIA

The United Nations Truce and Supervisory Organisation (UNTSO) was established in 1948 to monitor the Arab-Israeli peace following the proclamation of the state of Israel. New Zealand first committed two officers as United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) in 1954 and has gradually increased its commitment to seven military observers who serve at a variety of locations in Israel and Syria. Due to the continuing violence in the area, all dependants of NZDF personnel assigned to UNTSO and living in Israel were ordered to withdraw from the country in late 2002. This order will remain in effect until the security situation in Israel stabilises.

E. Operation Enduring Freedom — Operation TG SPEAK

The NZDF has contributed five staff officers to the headquarters for Operation Enduring Freedom since December 2001. The officers serve for six months.

Although the New Zealand Government has been slow to acknowledge the nature of further involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom, it has since acknowledged that New Zealand special forces participated in fighting in Afghanistan for a full year during the early stages of the operation. The Royal New Zealand Navy has been engaged in interdiction work in the Gulf region since January 2003, with an Orion surveillance plane deployed to support the interdiction work.5

VI. Operationally Deployed Forces in Europe

A. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Stabilisation Force (SFOR), Bosnia — Operation FORD

Twenty NZDF personnel are attached to British Army units assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Stabilisation Force in Bosnia, during the European summer period. The current NZDF contingent, comprising military police, signallers, logisticians and administrators, deployed to Bosnia in March 2003.

B. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Stabilisation Force (SFOR), Bosnia — Operation STANDARD

New Zealand’s commitment to the Balkan states commenced with seven personnel in 1992. This deployment was followed by a New Zealand Army, Infantry Company Group to UNPROFOR in 1994. The NZDF has maintained a commitment of seven staff officers to the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia. Six personnel are attached to the Multinational Brigade (Sector North-West) headquarters in Banja Luka, Bosnia and the remaining Officer is attached to the Permanent Joint Headquarters in the UK.

C. United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) — Operation KOSTER

In June 1999, the Security Council authorised the establishment of an interim civil administration in Kosovo. The NZDF commits one staff officer each year as a Military Liaison Officer with the UNMIK Headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo.

D. United Nations Military Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) —
Operation PREVIEW

One Army officer was deployed as an observer in Croatia with the United Nations Mission of Observers Prevlaka (UNMOP). This mission was established in 1996 to monitor the demilitarised zone either side of the Croation/Yugoslav border until ownership of the Peninsula was determined. This operation ceased on 15 December 2002.

VI. Operationally Deployed Forces in Africa

A. Accelerated De-mining Program in Mozambique (ADP) — Operation MOZAM

In December 1992 the United Nations commenced operations in Mozambique to rebuild the country after a protracted conflict, and in September 1994 it commenced its de-mining program. New Zealand’s commitment started in 1993, firstly with de-mining expertise to the military and also through two technical advisors to the program based at the mission headquarters in Maputo.

B. United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) — Operation SIERRA II

This operation monitors the security situation in Sierra Leone and the disarmament and demobilisation of the former combatants. The mission began in 1998. In October 1999 the mandate was adjusted to account for the increasing risk of civil war and 6,000 peacekeepers and up to 210 United Nations Military Observers were deployed, forming the United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The NZDF has committed two military observers based in Freetown and Bo.

* Lecturer in International Law at the University of Canterbury and Barrister of the High Court of New Zealand.

1 This review of military operations is directly sourced from the Report of the New Zealand Defence for the year ended 30 June 2003 (which coincides with the Yearbook period), presented to the House of Representatives pursuant to section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989 and section 91 of the Defence Act 1990; and from the New Zealand Defence Force website <> at 23/03/04.

2 See the New Zealand Defence Force website, URL <> at 23/03/04.

3 Report of the New Zealand Defence for the year ended 30 June 2003, presented to the House of Representatives pursuant to section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989 and section 91 of the Defence Act 1990, p8.

4 Ibid, pp90-93.

5 New Zealand Government Press Release, ‘Government assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraq’ 9 June 2003 <> at 1 April 2004.

NZLII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback