NATO and New Zealand share genuine partnership and interest in enhanced mil-to-mil cooperation, says Chairman of NATO military Committee

  • 14 Jun. 2017 - 17 Jun. 2017
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  • Last updated: 16 Jun. 2017 18:45

General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee visited Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand, on 14-17 June 2017. During his stay, the Chairman met with Secretary of Defence, Ms Helene Quilter; the Minister of Defence, the Honourable Mark Mitchell; Chief of Defence of the New Zealand Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Tim Keating; Commander of Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland, Air Commodore Darryn Webb; the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, Deputy Chief of the Army, Brigadier Christopher Parsons; and Special Operations Component Commander, Colonel Rob Gillard. General Pavel also attended a Defence meeting chaired by Lieutenant General Keating and delivered a speech at the New Zealand Institute for International Affairs at Victoria University.

Arriving in Wellington, General Pavel was greeted with a traditional Welcome Ceremony, a Pōwhiri, and Honour Guard at the Pukeahu National War Memorial. While at the War Memorial, the Chairman paid his respects and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. “It is a privilege to be able to pay my respects and honour those men and women who have lost their lives serving their country”, said General Pavel.

Discussions with Ms Helene Quilter and the Hon. Mark Mitchell centered on New Zealand and NATO’s increased dialogue and cooperation, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces and institutions, as well as regional and global threats and challenges. The Chairman thanked New Zealand for its enduring engagement in Afghanistan and the need to continue to work together to counter terrorism. “Geography and distance no longer protect us. By ensuring our regional security and working together on common threats and challenges we can increase global peace and security”, remarked General Pavel.

Attending a Defence meeting with Lieutenant General Keating, General Pavel was briefed on the current Operations and Missions the New Zealand Armed Forces are undertaking and their view on national, regional and global security challenges. He thanked Lt Gen Keating for New Zealand’s continued commitment to NATO-led Operations, Missions and Activities as both Generals agreed to look for further ways to enhance military-to-military cooperation which is of benefit to both NATO and New Zealand. “New Zealand may not have a large defence force but it consistently contributes what it can to defend our shared values of democracy and protect rule of law. Your contribution is always highly regarded and valued by the Alliance”, stressed the Chairman.

Meeting with the Air Component Commander of the RNZAF Base, Group Captain Tim Walshe, the General was briefed on the the Air Bases' capabilities and activities and visited a P-3K2 Airbourne Surveillance Plane. Visiting the SAS base at Papakura, the Chairman met Colonel Rob Gillard, Special Operations Component Commander. He received a briefing on their training capabilities and activities, and toured the recently completed multi-purpose training camp. Commenting on these visits, the General noted, “I am continually impressed with how the New Zealand Armed Forces are committed to ensuring their capabilities are of a high quality, make the best use of their resources, and maintain interoperability with all partners to provide real added value”.

Speaking with academics and government representatives at the New Zealand Institute for International Affairs, the Chairman highlighted the main challenges facing the Alliance, its current adaptation and its continued unity and solidarity in the face of threats from both state and non-state actors. The representatives in turn shared with the General their perspectives on regional and world affairs.