Oct 11, 2008

NZ US Military Ties Get Closer

Interesting article in the Dominion Post today confirming the steady closening of military ties with the United States

After decades of cold-shoulder treatment, United States military brass are now saying a US-New Zealand military partnership is vital to meet security challenges in the Pacific region.
Joint military exercises are on offer again, according to US Air Force commander Lieutenant General Loyd S Utterback, who was in Wellington last month for a conference hosted by air force chief Air Vice-Marshal Graham Lintott.
Since 1987 the US has blocked New Zealand forces from taking part in routine joint exercises. The only exceptions were preparations for war-zone deployments and, till recently, presidential waivers were required for anything else.
In a statement published on the US Air Force website, General Utterback said a partnership between the US and New Zealand militaries was vital. Being able to plan, share data and operate together could only make the US and New Zealand militaries better.
General Utterback, commander of air, space and information operations in the Pacific area, said: "We simply cannot afford to meet at a disaster site landing zone for the first time and realise that your aircraft can't get fuel from my pump or that we don'thave a common understanding of airspace control."
His visit comes just two months after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared New Zealand an ally - the first time that word had been used since the mid-1980s, when New Zealand barred the entry of nuclear powered or armed ships.
The thaw was underlined this month when New Zealand sent 172 troops to Germany for combat training with US, British, Canadian and Australian troops.