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The New Zealand Army - Armed to make a Difference
Your worship The Mayor, Chief of General Staff, ladies and gentlemen.
Today you have been given a glimpse of the New Zealand Army of the future - an Army ‘armed to make a difference'.
A mobile, fast moving, multi-skilled force equipped with the technology to perform peacekeeping and other duties anywhere in the world.
A well trained service, integrated with the needs of local communities.
A force for the 21st century.
It is an Army that will allow New Zealand to continue to play a role in world affairs that is out of all proportion to our size.
This commitment is recognised internationally and with the Government's $500 million re-equipment programme the Army will have the hi-tech tools to match its highly skilled people.
An army for the future needs mobility and protection for its personnel.
So in May I announced that $212 million will be spent replacing Armoured Personnel Carriers and retired Scorpions with the aim of eventually motorising the infantry battalions.
A modern Army requires modern communications, surveillance and targeting equipment to do its job.
The Government has approved new tactical communications gear, and a whole range of surveillance and night observation kits are already being delivered.
Our soldiers need credible firepower if called upon, so we are purchasing new grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, anti-armour weapons, and anti-aircraft missiles.
The aging Land Rover fleet is being replaced.
We will add two extra rifle companies - up to 400 additional men and women to the Army's strength.
These are not just promises in an election year; but firm commitments as part of the Government's future-looking defence policy.
The funds are there, the equipment being purchased or sought as we speak.
At home and abroad the New Zealand Army of the future will deliver for peace, while being prepared for conflict.
Wherever we look across the globe, from UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, mine clearance operations in Asia and Africa, the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group to observers in East Timor, at any one time we can see over 90 Kiwi soldiers proudly serving at their best for New Zealand.
At home the New Zealand Army has always been part of our local communities.
A new drive is underway to further integrate the Territorial Force into urban regions where they can play an increased role in youth training initiatives, civil defence and community support initiatives.
Whether it is in hotspots around the world or a local disaster the New Zealand Army is there to help - armed to make a difference.