NZ Army experiencing ‘spike in attrition’ as soldiers leave

Source: Te Karere

A large number of soldiers are leaving the NZ Army early, prompting its highest ranked solider to appeal to his colleagues to reconsider their decision.

File photo of army tank

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Sergeant Major of the Army Wiremu Moffitt spoke to those who were considering hanging up their uniforms.

“As the December period closes, I ask you and your whānau to carefully consider any decision to release prematurely," he wrote.

“You are valued by army and your teammates, and there is change in the wind.

“2022 will be a revived year focused on training, travel and regeneration. Hold the line.”

Te Karere contacted the army about the number of people leaving the force.

“The New Zealand Army is currently experiencing a spike in attrition, which can be attributed to a number of factors," Major-General John Boswell, Chief of Army said.

“Our people are our most important asset, and we are continually working to ensure the New Zealand Army remains an attractive employment option to those already in service, and those who may wish to join us in the future.”

To October 31 2021, 399 soldiers left the services voluntarily this year. In 2020 it was 347 and in 2019, 472.

There were 68 applications for early release for 2021, 87 for next year, and one so far for 2023.

In a further statement, Major-General Boswell said the strength of the labour market meant people were being attracted to higher-paying jobs.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan meant there were less opportunities for overseas deployment.

"But it is a matter of public record that the extent and scale of the requirements to staff the MIQ system is impacting on the NZDF, and Army in particular. Within Army, this has seen a reduction in our overall operational readiness and our ability to train," he said.

"While Army’s attrition rate naturally fluctuates and we expect it to rise when there is a strong labour market, what we are experiencing right now is not ordinary. We know we need to take action, and we are, including reviewing conditions of service to ensure that the commitment of our soldiers and their whanāu is being appropriately recognised."

Enlisting in the NZ Army

People join the army either as a commissioned officer or an enlisted soldier.

Commissioned officers are given command over formations of soldiers or specialists. These formations start at platoons of 30-50 people. They may also be given high level administrative roles.

Enlisted soldiers may be given more responsibility where they will advance in rank. Such soldiers who advance in rank are called non-commissioned officers (NCO). They will lead formations of up to 10 people. Sometimes their advance in rank because they are specialists or low level administrators.

The Sergeant-Major of the Army (SMA) is the highest ranked enlisted NCO in the Army. The highest ranked commissioned officer is the Chief of Army.

The SMA advises the Chief of Army on any matters affecting the training, management and welfare of enlisted soldiers.

He is an advocate of sorts for the enlisted soldier.

With parental permission, people can join the army at 17 years of age. As of 23 November, the starting salary for a recruit is $42,377 a year, with a pay raise once basic training is complete. The highest pay scale quoted on the NZDF recruitment site is $97,449 a year.