New Zealand announces new defence policy

05 July 2018
New Zealand has announced a new defence policy, with part focus on building maritime capability. In line with this emphasis, the country is expected to soon announce plans to procure Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft. Source: US Navy

Key Points

  • Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 highlights emerging risks for New Zealand
  • Defence priorities include maritime awareness, space, and cyber capabilities

The New Zealand government published a Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 on 6 July, outlining its defence and strategic objectives and broad plans to modernise the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

The new policy replaces the 2016 Defence White Paper and will be followed within the next few months by a Defence Capability Plan that will detail investment priorities over the coming decade and beyond.

In terms of the strategic threats, the policy statement made reference to a number of risks that it said have escalated since the publication of the 2016 White Paper.

These include climate change and the impact of rising sea levels and weather extremes; threats emanating from advanced military technologies including cyber and space; and what the policy described as an “international rules-based order”, or specifically risks linked to violent extremism, China’s regional assertiveness, Russia’s efforts to expand its influence, and North Korean militarisation.

In response to these emerging threats, the policy statement said, “Defence will have to act in new ways and at new levels to protect New Zealand’s values and interests.”

Outlining priorities in light of threats, the policy stated that the NZDF needs to ensure that it builds maritime domain awareness and response capability within New Zealand’s neighbourhood and further afield. It added that the NZDF needs to ensure it is capable in contributing to regional security activities on its own and alongside international partners, such as Australia and the United States.

Other priorities include supporting the NZDF in contributing to New Zealand’s access to space-based systems, and ensuring the NZDF is provided with “enhanced cyber capabilities” to achieve its military objectives.

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