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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958



The Editor,

Sir,—May I be permitted to offer further thoughts on the subject of military training in this country? We can no longer consider ourselves remote enough from the troubled situations on this shrinking planet to disregard our military responsibilities which in view of the size of the country, amount to co-operation with Commonwealth or allied nations and participation in military activities involving these nations. Ideally (and ideals should act as guides in the life of individual and nation in a practical and realistic manner, such activities should play a minor part in the affairs of the world and her constituents. The obliteration of the established material and social assets of the community in the interests of progress and ultimate social welfare during the uncontrolled flood of an international war which overwhelms both good and bad is surely inferior to the slower but directed effort which, aims at the removal of the undesirable characteristics of our civilisation and the improvement of living standards and amenities without the loss of life and the great discomforts which have characterised former attempts at solving human problems.

Bearing in mind the general fact that the accomplishment often falls short of the ideal and applying general principles to the solution of a local problem, we should be led to a practical decision whose value is enhanced because of its association with a broader stable frame. Thus, at a time when overseas resources and capital are dangerously ebbing and the demand for essential local services, in particular, electricity, is increasing, the Government is obliged to spend a large amount of local and overseas funds on military equipment whose value lies in its potential usefulness rather than its real usefulness since few hope that the full potentials of destructive military equipment will ever have to be applied. It is doubtful whether, as some suggest, the discipline imposed on the trainee by his superiors is of lasting value, and the general lack of enthusiasm and the doubt the trainee feels regarding the worthwhileness of his duty all reduce the chances of the system turning out a good soldier. A failure to appreciate the reality of a potential threat has placed New Zealand in an uncomfortable position in the past, and still does, as is demonstrated by the recent power cuts, the lack of overseas funds and ineffective use of existing military training facilities and permanent, experienced staff who could form the nucleus of a quickly mobilised force in the event of the actual outbreak of war. This staff would not attempt the difficult task of training a large group of men under conditions of peace, unspurred by the realisation that the threat to themselves, their family and country is real.