Defence rejects bid to engage foreigners

National, Normal

THE Defence Ministry has rejected a proposal for a private security firm to amalgamate with the PNG Defence Force.
The proposal, put forward by former Defence Force commander Peter Ilau would see thousands of members of the global security firm, G4S, incorporated into the PNGDF.
The British-based firm is one of the main foreign companies contracted to provide security for PNG’s massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project led by ExxonMobil.
But the first secretary at the Defence Ministry, Bill Toraso, said they had rejected the idea because an amalgamation would potentially undermine PNG’s sovereignty and security.
“The Defence Force cannot be dealing with a private security firm, especially one with overseas ownership.
“The danger is that we are compromising our (PNG’s) security here; getting foreign security firms to mix up with our army,” Mr Toraso said.
When the proposal reached PNGDF headquarters, senior army officers and top department officials, including Defence secretary Fred Punangi, opposed it.
They were worried the PNGDF was not geared for such operations, especially in partnership with private security contractors.
They were concerned that such joint operations in a number of countries like Afghanistan and Iraq have not been successful, and were driven more on commerce than pride or national identity.
Mr Punangi said last night PNG could not afford another “Sandline operation” in the country, referring to the proposed engagement of a private para-military unit to carry out national security duties.