However additional changes are needed. As Defence may not (or should not) necessarily be the lead agency in these cases, more needs to be done to recognise the centrality of civil-military relations in responding to these issues. This means looking to develop interagency relationships to an unprecedented degree - reconsidering how current institutions and priorities within and relations between those institutions enable or frustrate New Zealand’s overall ability to respond to non-conventional security issues.
'The impact of climate change, although uneven across the globe, is already negatively affecting overall global food production and water distribution, an effect that will only increase over time given the continued increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.'
Resource concerns are highly significant for thinking about defence and security priorities. Some areas of particular significance include 1) an increased focus on helping to maintain fish stocks 2) efforts to help maintain Antarctica as a peaceful reserve, and 3) a recent declaration that New Zealand is establishing a significant maritime reserve within its EEZ.
Concerns about overfishing in the region have prompted a number of regional initiatives which underscore the relevance of strengthening New Zealand’s interagency relationships. Te Vaka Moana, for example, not only looks to secure fish stocks within the EEZ’s of signatory countries in the Southwest Pacific through monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement functions, but also keeps a weather eye on fishing issues in adjacent high seas. Customs and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) officials work alongside Defence in supporting this initiative. The importance of combating illegal fishing is further underscored by joint MPI and NZDF engagement in a recent five week fisheries patrol in the high seas of the South Pacific where New Zealand worked alongside Australia and France. Navy and Air Force personnel and capabilities, in particular, have key roles to play in this arena alongside civilian counterparts.
Thinking about fishing and other resources brings us to Antarctica. The 1961 Antarctic Treaty, which limits the use of the continent to peaceful scientific purposes, is threatened by increasing interest in resource extraction. The 2014 Defence Assessment recognises this, as well as noting that New Zealand’s obligations in the region may require additional search and rescue operations as tourism increases – potentially requiring an increase in capabilities able to function in that particular environment. There are also some more ‘conventional’ concerns at play here as China’s rapidly expanding interest in the area has been noted with some caution (including by New Zealand’s Anne-Marie Brady in her work on China as a ‘polar power’).
Other demands on Defence, which again mainly involve the Navy and Air Force, will also emerge from the creation of a new maritime reserve. Plans were released in September 2015 to establish a reserve stretching from the New Zealand mainland to the Kermadec Islands. Fishing and mining will be prohibited in this expansive area which comprises 15% of New Zealand’s EEZ. This aligns with similar recent efforts by Australia and the United States, but has been touted as setting a ‘gold standard’. This reserve will be monitored by Navy and satellite technology, requiring a strong whole of government approach (including possibly subcontracting to private surveillance companies) if limited resources are to be utilised to their best advantage.
This brings us to the final issue at hand. Defence has long recognised the primacy of the South Pacific in policy and planning. The Joint Amphibious Task Force concept, for example, was connected to the notion that operations in the South Pacific may be the one area where New Zealand might need to lead a stability or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief mission. However, this type of engagement is more likely to be non-military or ‘military-light’ in nature. In order to undertake stability operations more successfully, much more emphasis on civil-military-police cooperation and coordination is necessary. The recent Southern Katipo exercise was somewhat useful in terms of its scenario, which involved:
deploying a military contingent to lead a multinational Combined Joint Task Force that will help restore law and order in a fictional South Pacific country called Becara. The multinational task force will conduct stability, support and humanitarian operations, including the evacuation of internally displaced people.
Engagement with eight other countries (including France, US, UK and a high-ranking Chinese military observer) as well as other New Zealand agencies (including Customs, MFAT, Police, MPI, Health) and civil society was described as central to the exercise. However, in this scenario non-military engagement was ‘tacked on’ rather than being central to the situation unfolding. More needs to be done to bring non-military agencies to the fore.
The new Defence White Paper should explicitly recognise and plan for the fact that Defence may not, or should not, be the lead agency in many of these situations. There is a precedent in the fishing initiatives mentioned above as well as in the RAMSI mission, which also relied heavily on the building of interagency relationships. While the NZDF may have greater expeditionary and other projection capabilities than other government agencies, the Defence White Paper should still provide the policy backdrop for seeking to integrate Defence as one of the many supporting agencies addressing the non-conventional security challenges this country faces.
Beth Greener is Associate Professor of International Relations at Massey University. She can emailed at email@example.com
Photo credit: NZDF