Half A Billion Dollars For Army Re-equipmentDefence
Defence Minister Max Bradford today released the details of the Army's $500 million re-equipment programme, all of which is being funded within the Defence Assessment programme agreed by the Government last year.
The release is in response to continuing ill-informed comment about the Army's re-equipment programme.
For example, Mr Bradford said the continuing assaults by a long-retired Army Brigadier, Mr Mike Dudman, asserting (most recently in Friday's National Business Review) that the Army is suffering in its re-equipment programme because of the proposed acquisition of a replacement frigate and strike aircraft deserves correction.
"Mr Dudman has criticised the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Tony Birks, directly contradicting General Birks' confirmation that the Army's programme will not be affected if a replacement frigate is purchased," Mr Bradford said.
"I take particular exception to Mr Dudman's assertion that General Birks 'is telling it as the Minister wants it told'. With a statement like that, he directly impugns General Birks integrity as the Government's chief military adviser.
"Such an accusation is not only serious, but it goes to the heart of the process we operate in the Government of New Zealand. Mr Dudman should remember that, particularly as he should have adopted the same standards himself when he was in the Army."
"The trouble with Mr Dudman is that he has been retired too long and doesn't know what is in the pipeline now. I strongly suggest that before he makes such ill-informed assertions about what has and is being done, he first inform himself of the facts.
"He should also note that he, and others like him who have strong views about defence, that the three present service chiefs have all advised General Birks that they agree with the capital purchase programme I will be recommending to the Government. The programme, in addition to the half billion dollars for the Army, includes re-equipping the Navy and Airforce including a replacement frigate and replacement strike aircraft, as we foreshadowed clearly in the 1997 Defence Assessment."