OVERALL POLICY NEEDED
announcement by the Minister of Defence that the R.N.Z.A.F. will shortly undergo reorganisation, involving the early release of some 5000 men, brings into prominence once more the urgent need for some positive Government policy on the Avhole question of the Dominion's Service contribution to the final stages of the war. Under the new scheme the Air Force will be reduced in strength by about 14 per cent, and the men affected are those who have served in the European theatre or in New Zealand ground stations. So far there is no word of any release scheme for the force as a whole, and this omission will cause dissatisfaction among those men (and their relatives) who are not covered. The latest plan appears merely another product of the inability of the Government to make up its mind. The country is anxiously awaiting an announcement concerning the future of the Division, and of the Navy, and the extent of our commitments in the air. Indecision of this type causes an inevitable falling away in morale, both civilian and Service, and should not happen.
It is not surprising that in the present confused state of affairs there should arise thoroughly undesirable situations. Some three to four thousand Army reinforcements now in camp, for instance, are filling in time wondering what is going to happen next. Will they be sent to join the Division in the European theatre? Will they remain here until the Division returns (if it does return as a Division) and be fitted into their units before leaving for active service in some new theatre? Will they ever go anywhere? These are the questions being discussed by the men, and they cannot fail to reach the conclusion that they are to some extent victims of weakness in high places. Nominally, of course, the men are undergoing training to fit them for service overseas, but it is no'secret that the training staffs at the various mobilisation camps are woefully short of experienced personnel, and men who have never seen a shot fired in anger, and who boast a single temporary stripe, are being asked to teach others who are as inexperienced. It was significant that the Officer Commanding the District, at a recent parade of the reinforcement now in camp, complimented the junior N.C.O.'s on the work they were doing. The men we ,- e certainly doing their best, within the limits mentioned, but they should not have been placed in this invidious position. For New Zealand reinforcements at this stage of the war to be trained by other than men who have been on active service is a striking indictment of our direction of military affairs. One cannot avoid the conclusion that here is a case of the "blind leading the blind."
It should be a simple matter to arrange for suitable men, tried and proved in the heat of battle, and possessing the ability to pass on to others their knowledge, to be sent home when they have completed two and a half years' overseas service. The last six months prior to their discharge could be spent on a tour of duty at a mobilisation camp, and no great flights, of. imagination are required to visualise the fillip these officers and N.C.O.'s would give to preliminary training. Failing this the reinforcements should be called into camp only when advice has been received that transport will shortly be available. In two or three weeks the men could be passed medically and dentally fit, issued with clothing, and. their records completed. They would then be ready to proceed to the overseas training base (wherever it may be) to begin preparing themselves for posting to their units. The present muddle, which must be deplored, is simply the outcome of long procrastination. The public frankly does not believe that the Government is prevented by circumstances beyond its control from announcing a policy for the.Division and the other Services. Piecemeal statements cannot do other than increase the present widespread dissatisfaction. Most nations taking.part in the Pacific war have made up their minds, and have told their own people and their Allies what they are going to do. New Zealand, usually proud of being among the leaders, has fallen woefully far behind.
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OVERALL POLICY NEEDED, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 173, 24 July 1945
OVERALL POLICY NEEDED Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 173, 24 July 1945
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