New NZDF chief sworn in

Lieutenant General Tim Keating. Photo / LAC Amanda McErlich
Lieutenant General Tim Keating. Photo / LAC Amanda McErlich

Lieutenant General Tim Keating was sworn in as Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force at a ceremony in Wellington today.

The former Special Forces commander takes over from Lt Gen Rhys Jones, who was stood down after three years in the job.

During a ceremony at Government House in Wellington this afternoon, Governor-General Sir Gerry Mateparae presented Lt Gen Keating with the promotion to assume control of the 13,000-strong New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

"It is indeed my honour and privilege to lead this fine organisation," Lt Gen Keating told guests.

"In this role as Chief of Defence Force, I have a distinct responsibility both to the Government of New Zealand and those who serve in the ranks of the Defence Force.

"When our Defence Force personnel are deployed, the advice I give will in all likelihood put young New Zealanders in harm's way. Therefore the cause must be just, which is a decision for our Government, and the plan, its resourcing and its execution must be professional, which is my prime responsibility."

Lt Gen Keating has previously been the commanding officer of the New Zealand contingent in the Sinai Peninsula. He was a commanding officer of 1st New Zealand Special Air Service and has supported international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. He has also served as Chief of Army and Vice Chief of Defence Force.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said Lt Gen Keating was a strong, credible leader with 32 years of military experience.

"He has extensive organisational management, leadership, and operational experience, and has translated strategic ideas into practical achievable plans."

Mr Coleman thanked Lt Gen Jones for his service to New Zealand during his 35-year career.

"During his tenure as CDF he played a key role in devising the long term strategic vision for a future Defence Force, and he helped to set out a clear path forward on defence affordability. "

In September, Mr Coleman confirmed Lt Gen Jones would not have his role extended

The Labour Party accused the Government of making him a "scapegoat" for multiple safety failures in the NZDF.

Lt Gen Jones also came under fire when he was sued for defamation by journalist Jon Stephenson over two articles regarding the treatment of Afghan detainees by New Zealand soldiers.

- APNZ

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