Rob Ayson’s thought-provoking post implied that the temporary incapacity of New Zealand’s two ANZAC frigates is a blessing in disguise. In other words, because both vessels were undergoing a significant upgrade refit in Canada, Wellington would be able to rebuff any request from Washington to send a warship to the Gulf, simply because the capability was unavailable. Rob went on to ponder whether the absence of a surface combat capability beyond 2030 really matters for keeping New Zealand’s lights on.
To this Australia-based occasional commentator on trans-Tasman strategic affairs that seems like a fair, if deliberately provocative, question. After all, successive New Zealand governments have run down the NZDF’s combat capabilities, including its fast jets, without incurring obvious strategic costs. Or, at least not costs that bother most taxpayers, since it is they who are ultimately expected to foot the bill for defence, against competing priorities with more tangible socio-economic benefits.