RECENT media reports that the top management of the PNG Defence Force and G4S, a foreign-owned private security company, have held talks for the latter to use the former’s facilities and offer training to soldiers on a commercial arrangement speaks of the deplorable condition of the country’s defence force.
At the same time, this raises very serious sovereignty and security issues.
Firstly, it clearly demonstrates that the Government has treated our national security so lightly and contemptuously, hence, leading to a cavalier approach to the army’s administrative and operational issues.
It is sad that the once respected and admired PNGDF is now in tatters.
Our rich natural resources make us one of the most enviable countries on the planet, while at the same time, making us an easy target in terms of illegal fishing in our waters, people smuggling, money laundering, and trading of firearms and drugs.
We need a strong and agile army to protect our people, waters, international borders and natural resources.
With positive indications of strong economic growth at an average rate of 7% per annum in the next 5-10 years, principally propelled by the realisation of the LNG project and other oil, gas and mining projects on the drawing board, more and more foreigners and our own citizens from rural PNG will migrate to the urban areas in huge numbers for new opportunities and this will create more complex social problems.
It is fundamentally important for the Government to raise the size, standard and mobility of the PNGDF in order to protect PNG’s sovereignty while at the same time, counter attack any civil unrest and disorder that is complex in nature and at a larger scale at the domestic front.
Most importantly, we need a strong PNGDF to actively partake in nation building through civil works and disaster and emergency operations.
The second point, which in my opinion is very serious, is the proposal for the PNGDF to be trained by a foreign private security company using PNGDF facilities and assets through a commercial arrangement.
The PNGDF cannot afford to become subservient to some unknown foreigners who care more about enriching themselves but who don’t care much about PNG and its people.
The PNGDF cannot gamble with our national security.
This is the least we, the people of PNG, want to envisage.