ARMY FUNDAMENTALS: From Making Soldiers to the Limits of the Military Instrument.

AuthorRobinson, Colin
PositionBook review

ARMY FUNDAMENTALS: From Making Soldiers to the Limits of the Military Instrument

Editor: B.K. Greener Published by: Massey University Press, Auckland, 2017, 288pp, $45.

This edited collection by Massey University's Bethan Greener aims to examine the 'identity and functions' of the New Zealand Army from a range of academic viewpoints. In this it does a good job, though it could be improved somewhat by more information and a sharper focus on what the structure and functions of the army actually are.

The chapters cover making soldiers and officers, deployments, including development, peacekeeping, the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, training foreign security forces, masculinity and femininity in the army and, as a conclusion, what roles the military instrument can and cannot successfully achieve. Several of the authors began the work that led to these publications inside the New Zealand Defence Force (Peter Greener whilst academic dean at the Command and Staff College, Michael Lauren at the Defence Technology Agency, Jane Derbyshire, Josh Wineera) while several others (including Bethan Greener herself, Nina Harding, and Maike Guesgen) drew on the close and special links that Massey's Centre for Defence and now Strategic Studies has maintained for years with the NZDF.

A worthy comparison volume is Anthony Beevor's Inside the British Army (1991), though Beevor's book is approached from a journalistic rather than academic standpoint. In comparison to this book or Jim Rolfe's The Armed Forces of New Zealand (1999), one clearly sees the absence of an initial chapter on what exactly the size, shape, roles and functions of the army are at present. To properly assess whether the army is achieving its functions requires knowing exactly what they are. The officially promulgated roles and functions need to be mentioned at the very least and, better still, analysed and critiqued. At the time of writing, the Defence White Paper 2010 remained the most overall authoritative reference. The inclusion of such a chapter might have highlighted, for example, the dawning possibility that the army may be required to consider combat operations in the Antarctic, if New Zealand's sovereignty over the Ross Dependency continues. The Antarctic Treaty system and natural resources worldwide continue to come under increasing pressure.

In looking at the army's functions, one other surprising omission is any detailed evaluation of its core...

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