Lieutenant General Timothy Keating is the new chief of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). Keating joined the army in 1982 and has served in various leadership positions, including as commanding officer of the First New Zealand Special Air Service and vice chief of the NZDF. Keating holds a master’s degree from the U.S. Naval War College.
Why is he in the news?
Keating was sworn in as New Zealand’s new defense chief in January, replacing Rhys Jones, whose contract expired in 2013. Jones’s term at the helm of the NZDF was marked by political battles over budget cuts, as the government asked him to find $280-325 million in savings.
What can we expect from him?
Keating assumed his new role with 32 years of military experience, both operational and managerial. Like his predecessor, Keating will continue to face budgetary constraints. His domestic focus will be on improving morale among defense personnel—which hit an all-time low in 2012—amid a reduced defense budget. Keating will oversee the final withdrawal of New Zealand troops from Afghanistan, expected to come later this year.
Keating will likely continue improving New Zealand’s military relations with the United States. Since the signing of the Wellington Declaration in 2010, bilateral and multilateral military cooperation have rapidly increased. The success of exercises involving New Zealand and U.S. forces in 2013, including Southern Katipo in New Zealand, Dawn Blitz in California, and Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii, were signposts for future military cooperation. Expect Keating to help further improve interoperability between New Zealand and U.S. forces.