Military Intelligence

This clichéd oxymoron is an easy jibe, which our defence forces have tolerated with gritted teeth and silent dignity for as long as ANZAC. One day per year, we honour and praise our former soldiers, sailors and airmen; all other days we regard our current military services with indifference. Reflecting society, our politicians play an ambivalent game, wrapping themselves in the flag for photo-ops while cutting the Vote Defence to the bone. Not quite non-aligned; not quite an ally. USA and Australia despair of us, bemused at our self-deceiving “independent” defence policy. How can there be policy or independence without broad agreement on our place in the world, the strategic value of our land and water resources, and adequate funding?

For all that, this Anzac Day was unusually good – large turnouts, reflective speeches and articles, proud engagement by the young – bringing some hope that the long estrangement between Civvy Street and our military may be abating. Thankfully the hostility of the Vietnam era did not last too long, although it was most hurtful to those in the services at the time.

So to Military Intelligence. I take the view that our Armed Forces organization and people are capable, intelligent and professional, from which and from whom we civilians can gain plenty. Evidence:

  • The Navy has gained the Gold Award in Business Excellence. Their mission: “to be the best small-nation navy in the world”. This is a world-class award and extremely tough; only three organizations in NZ have ever achieved it.
  • Our SAS and other elite forces are also world-class.
  • Officers are well-trained leaders – a scarce skill in business. They think both strategically and tactically, and are strong, sensible decision-makers and communicators.
  • Military personnel are superbly trained, loyal, responsible, dependable, methodical, and goal-oriented. Magnificent team leaders and members.
  • Our friendliness, fairness and colour-blindness are qualities that distinguish our troops in New Zealand’s many UN and ISAF deployments.

Perhaps it is a sign of our increased maturity that our Governor General is an eminent and intellectual soldier! Lt. General Sir Jerry Mateparae’s observations on Anzac Day are uplifting. His words “Comradeship, courage, compassion” have application in all organizations facing economic battle and possible retrenchment.

Whatever adversities we face this month, thank God we remain at peace.

Warren, NZDSM