Australia has just announced that it will join the US-led mission to protect shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz against harassment by Iran. New Zealand not only seems unlikely to do the same. It seems unable. Defence Minister Ron Mark has said that "The bottom line [is] that I can barely struggle to keep two P3s [surveillance aircraft] flying ... I just don't see that we have any spare capability right now to engage in that kind of a mission."
When Donald Trump’s latest Defence Secretary was in town earlier this month, I implied that New Zealand already had an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card for any US request for assistance, at least on the naval side. One of New Zealand’s two frigates, I suggested, was away being refitted. It turns out I was wrong. Both of the ANZAC frigates, as a colleague corrected me, are in a Canadian dockyard.