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the Government comes to choose a successor to LieutenantGeneral Puttick, General Officer Commanding the New Zealand Military Forces, it will be faced with a decision which is likely to be of immeasurably greater consequence to the country as a whole than was the case when similar selections were made in the past. General Puttick, as is pointed out on this page to-day, has reached the retiring age, and there is naturally speculation concerning his successor. This is all the more widespread because a large section of the community, having been engaged on war service, either abroad or at home, feels itself personally concerned for the first time. The Government has a range of experienced officers from which to make its choice, and there can be no doubt that whoever gets the job will be a man with an impressive war record. The dead hand of promotion by seniority alone must not be allowed to be the deciding factor, although it is recognised that if the best qualified man is also the most senior then all sorts of potential difficulties are avoided.

Before tackling the job the Government should think seriously about how it can best distinguish between claims. It is obvious that politicians alone are not qualified to judge the capabilities of men with approximately similar service in war and peace. The job of commanding the whole of the Dominion's war potential calls for qualities that are not, as a matter of inevitability, possessed by every brigadier who has an outstanding active service record. At the same time it is essential that whoever is chosen should have the highest skill and ability in carrying out the ultimate end of soldiering—waging war. How to strike a balance is the problem.

One innovation which might prove helpful would be the setting up of an advisory selection committee representative of the regular Army and civilian soldiers. To this committee might be referred the names of the men who are in the running for the top command. The list of eligibles should not be confined to regulars. There are a number of men of outstanding military ability (Major-Generals Kippenberger and Barrowclough are two obvious examples) who before the war were engaged in civilian occupations but gave their leisure to preparing for the testing time they were convinced was coming. Their records in battle are sufficient proof that they learned their job well. The fact that these and other part-time officers did not spend the period between the wars on the permanent staff should not now automatically debar the country from the chance of using their special talents to direct our peacetime military training and planning.

Another question that must be settled is the desirability, or otherwise, of promoting a man with at least ten years' service before him. It is of little use in any organisation to change the directing brain every three or four years. The complexity of the problems that New Zealand must face in relating her military commitments under the world security organisation, and her own domestic training, to her ability to maintain any considerable force on a permanent basis makes continuity of policy, especially for the first post-war years, essential. The New Zealand Military Forces, have played'a remarkable role in the Second World War, and the Dominion will be expected to maintain its standard. To be successful , the new General Officer Commanding will need exceptional talents, and the Government must be satisfied that he has them before making the appointment.

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Bibliographic details

CHOOSING THE NEW G.O.C., Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 180, 1 August 1945

Word Count

CHOOSING THE NEW G.O.C. Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 180, 1 August 1945

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