The entire Defence Force will be re-shaped by 2015 into what will be called a Joint Amphibious Task Force that will enable the Army to deploy more people for longer in combat situations.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp this morning launched the plan at Defence Headquarters, including some decisions on equipment and training as part of the Defence Capability Plan, the first in 10 years.
About $3 billion will be spent over the next 10 years but it will come from budgeted future accumulated depreciation payments, and there will be no new capital spending he said.
Part of that will be spent on an upgraded battle training facility by 2014 for the SAS at Papakura, which it seems could be a public-private partnership.
The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said the exact amount to be spent on SAS battle training upgrade was still to be determined.
"Part of the process is to go out''and engage with industry as to how it could be built and whether it is full ownership, partial ownership. Those details are still being looked at.''
The Capability Plan states that the Army will be "reshaped around a combined arms task group to increase the combat utility, sustainability and potential scale of deployments.''
That would include an increase in frontline personnel.
"This reconfiguration will provide sufficient depth to sustain a maximum land force for deployment of 800 personnel for up to three years in a mid-intensity environment.''
The Plan says one infantry company will be trained with a wider range of higher-end skills, allowing it to not only operate as a regular infantry company but also to undertake some more demanding tasks and, if needed support Special Operations Forces operations.
Dr Mapp said the Defence White Paper released last year was a statement of the Government's goals; the Capability Plan set out how they were to be implemented over the next 10 years.
Dr Mapp also announced that the Air Force is in the market for a more advanced pilot training capability.
"The upgraded P3 Orion and C-130 Hercules aircraft and the NH90 helicopters are frontline military aircraft that are routinely flown well beyond normal civil parameters.''
Current training is undertaken using King Air B200s, twin engine civilian planes, which were limited in power, manoevrability and cockpit visibility.By Audrey Young Email Audrey