Opinion divided on NZ-US military exercises
By Audrey Young
Military exercises between New Zealand and the United States are being stepped up but the public is fairly divided over them.
New Zealand Army engineers will train in the United States with the Marine Corps next month in an exercise dubbed Galvanic Kiwi, the first joint exercise on American soil since the Anzus rift over New Zealand anti-nuclear policy in 1984.
It will follow closely on the heels of the Alam Halfa exercise in New Zealand which involves 76 US military personnel, the first combat exercises since the rift.
A Herald-DigiPoll of 750 voters conducted shortly after the announcement of the Alam Halfa exercise suggests more people approve of the resumption of exercises, but not overwhelmingly.
Asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the United States resuming military exercises in New Zealand,” 47.6 per cent approved, 44 per cent disapproved and 8.4 per cent didn’t know or wouldn’t say.
The US exercise will involve 36 New Zealand defence personnel. It will be a reciprocal platoon exchange with 50 Marines who will visit New Zealand next month with a Marine band to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Americans in World War II to aid New Zealand’s defence.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was a little surprised and thought support for the exercises might be higher but respondents might have thought it involved ship visits.
“There’ll always be a hard core who will disapprove.”