Defence need proper funding

Editorial

THE Government now has a daunting task if what the Emergency controller says about the PNG Defence Force as being unprepared for natural disaster is right.
Controller Dr William Hamblin made these remarks during the press club meeting last week.
While we understand his frustrations about things not going as planned in relation to the earthquake in February, to shoot at the PNGDF is unfair.
The Defence Force is a small force numbering around 2500 personnel and consists of a Land Element, an Air Element and a Maritime Element.
Its core services include border security; maritime surveillance, patrol and response; public order and security; nation-building; disaster relief; and the fulfilment of international obligations.
Assisting in any humanitarian relief missions comes under disaster relief. Mobility is severely impaired due to the country’s mountainous geography, heavy rainforest and the nation’s under-developed transport infrastructure.
According to the Defence Force website, the first duty of the Government is to provide for the security and defence of our nation and our national interests.
Government must ensure that we have defence capabilities to respond to a range of security contingencies and provide options to
assist regional stabilisation initiatives that promote our national interests.
Defence accounts for less than two per cent of government expenditure, while also receiving significant assistance and training support from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and other nations.
The Defence White Paper 2013 has ambitious plans to increase the force to 5000 men and women and double the defence spending to three per cent by last year and 10,000 men and women by 2030. The current economic situation is not conducive to achieving that.
The Defence Force capability is considered modest, with the army facing significant problems including a chronic budget crisis, a lack of experience in conventional operations, limited ability to be deployed independently overseas as well as internal tensions.
The air force and navy also suffer major equipment and funding shortfalls – to the point of sometimes almost being grounded – and are both too small and poorly equipped to take part in operations overseas. Indeed, the Defence Force is badly in need of new equipment. Australia, New Zealand, France and several other nations are assisting in the training and the professionalisation of the Defence Force, while others – including Germany and China – provide budgetary assistance.
Defence accounts for up to four per cent of Government expenditure, while also receiving significant assistance and training support from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and other nations.
With all the broad firing at the Defence Force, it is time now to improve on its recruitment criteria, with those enlisted possessing certain skills and qualities. These should include the ability to plan, prioritise and organise people and other resources; the ability to carefully analyse problems in order to generate appropriate solutions; preparedness to stand by a decision and to accept responsibility for its consequences; aptitude for absorbing information and the ability to identify what is relevant; aptitude for working within a team environment and to be supportive of others; clear, concise and effective communications skills; leadership ability and motivation to take responsibility for others; ability to delegate to others; initiative, resilience and calmness when faced with conflicting demands and when working under pressure; and be mentally and physically fit to meet the standards set.
To maintain the operational capabilities we require it will be necessary to have a larger, but also far more flexible military force, one that can be called up on short notice if necessary.
Our armed forces, starved of funds are as vulnerable as they have been for generations.
Proper defence requires proper funding

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