7 Dec 2010

New defence force chief named

6:58 am on 7 December 2010

The chief of army, Major General Rhys Jones, has been named as the new chief of the defence force.

Current defence force chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae is to retire, and take over as head of the Government's electronic spy agency, the GCSB, next February.

Major General Rhys Jones was one of the key figures in developing the Defence White Paper.

Last month's White Paper identified ways to free up to $300 million for frontline spending through measures such as consolidating defence bases, and using civilians in more jobs.

Prime Minister John Key says Major General Jones was chosen from a short-list of four candidates.

He says his term will be for three years, rather than five years, but could be extended at the end of three years.

Mr Key says the new chief has a big job ahead of him leading the value for money exercise for the defence force, and the shorter term will allow the Government to monitor his progress.

Defence White Paper

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says Major General Jones is an experienced and highly-respected officer.

Dr Mapp says Major General Jones has played a key role in developing the Defence White Paper, which will be implemented during his term.

Dr Mapp says as a proven high-calibre officer he will provide outstanding leadership as the Chief of Defence Force, especially in the strategic domain and also the Value for Money project.

Major General Jones will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General when he takes up the new role in late January.