Sincere congratulations to Messrs Key and Rudd and their respective governments with the news that their military Chiefs of Staff have been directed to explore the establishment of an ANZAC Ready Reaction Force in being.
Many of us have advocated such a move for years. Those of us who served with one of the ANZAC Battalions in Vietnam know the concept works. Many of us were trained in Australia; we share the same doctrine and, we have respect for each others abilities. But more to the point, New Zealand does not have the ability to deploy and sustain an infantry battalion in anything more than low intensity operations and that is a major problem. An ANZAC Ready Reaction Force would provide us with a much enhanced capability.
Key was at pains to point out that it does not mean that where Australia goes, we go too. I guess that in 90% of the time our positions will be in sync but there will be occasions where both countries might agree to disagree. That needs to be recognised.
There will be challenges to work through including the differences in pay and allowances and the fact that Australia will not be keen for New Zealand to freeload off them.
But the positives far, far, far outweigh the negatives and certainly for this old soldier it is a step in the right direction too long in the making.
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