New Zealand's six territorial forces will be merged into three, with the loss of up to 600 territorial soldiers, a briefing paper from the New Zealand Defence Force says.
The briefing to incoming Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman says the Cabinet agreed in August 2011 to merge the six existing battalions into three and cut up to 600 army territorial force positions from the existing 1800.
The move would save $9.25 million.
A Defence Force spokeswoman said a review was under way of how the battalions would be merged and where positions would be cut.
Honorary Colonel of the 4th Otago Southland Battalion Stuart McLauchlan said he would not want to see the 150-year-old battalion group disbanded and was confident that would not be the case. He had been part of the consultation process and was confident the "4 O-South" identity and presence would remain in the south, even if, as was one of the options discussed, it was as part of a bigger South Island battalion group.
"It is likely 2 Cants [the 2nd Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast Battalion] and 4 O-South will be brought closer together."
Labour defence spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway was not surprised the territorial force was being reduced in size.
"This [the savings they have already identified] is nothing like what they need to save. And if they can't find the savings, you have to ask what else they are going to cut." Otago Daily TimesBy John Lewis of the Otago Daily Times, Debbie Porteous