THE Papua New Guinea Defence Force should now plan for the next 20 years and align its capabilities with those of the Apec member countries.
Security demands are changing all the time, and as we become more imbedded in the global economy the threats we face are many, from climate change to rogue states.
Our national security is coming under increased threats.
Even our vast natural marine resources, especially our fishing stocks, are threatened by illegal fishing because we simply lack the capacity to protect our borders.
We definitely need to expand our military resources, including our manpower, intelligence and capacity building (combat military wares for land, sea and air) to address these issues.
This must be one of the issues on our Apec priority list.
Our neighbour Australia should have been working with us to build our military capacity but it did not.
Our national security is also Australia’s national security but they do not seem to acknowledge that in their foreign and defence policies.
During World War Two, we stood beside the Australians against Japan and assisted them to safety with our local knowledge and human spirit.
After independence in 1975, Australia strategically denied any substantial investment to build our military capacity.
Whatever that strategy was designed to serve, it is counterworking against them because China and India are now living and working in the villages of PNG.
China is giving so much money and resources to help build our country.
Soon the Chinese language will be introduced to PNG.
And this is another challenge where the education minister should consider during this year of Apec and he should ask for more Chinese investment to build our universities and polytechnical institutions.
If China, Japan and Russia are more powerful than Australia, should we rely on Australia?
PNG is not a security threat to Australia but it is a significant historical ally.
Since Australia has done little to build our defence forces capacity, we must now take a proactive approach by structuring our military partnership with Russia, China, Japan, Korea and the United States.
Given our strategic location, any of these countries would love to invest in a strong military partnership with us and would welcome our request to expand our military cababilities, including increased manpower.
If it means inviting China or Russia to build their military base in PNG as part of our strategic partnership, then why not?
It is essential to improve our relationship with China.
As a sovereign State we are entitled to our own political interest and should not be dictated to by
Australia. This is vital for our many unemployed youths who need military discipline, training and exposure to protect our sovereign interest as well as involving themselves in humanitarian relief and protection efforts.
The Defence Force should expand its capacity to 20,000 troops and structure an agreement with the most suitable Apec member states to train our soldiers to know their military and civilian responsibilities.
The Government will use these 20,000 troops to undertake both civil works and military responsibilities. This will significantly
reduce government expenditures on many costly civil exercises like opening up strategic and difficult economic corridors in vast and isolated parts of the country.
Don’t ask me how and where we will get the money to undertake such massive exercise because this is exactly why we elected our members of Parliament for.
They should find the money to do this and the onus is now on the good minister for defense and his secretary. How they strategically plan and execute such massive undertaking will reflect their intelligence and patriotism. Otherwise PNG will continue to remain Australia’s “kago boi” for a very long time.
We can’t simply stand and watch if we want to develop our country to rise up as an economic and smart military power in the next 50 years.