The National, Thursday July 18th, 2013
CONDEMNATION of the raid by PNGDF soldiers on the medical faculty over the weekend by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Defence Minister Fabian Pok is welcome but it will not achieve much.
This sort of rowdy behavior has occurred before and they have been roundly condemned and threats have been issued – with no effect.
Indeed, there is a certain not-so-subtle circling aspect to the reaction to this quite unfortunate event.
We say the politicians are circling because there is a man in the PNGDF who should be answerable for all this and they ought to be telling it to him.
If threats of termination or whatever other penalty is to be issued, it should be to him.
He has been placed there by the Government to manage the affairs of soldiers, to ensure discipline is maintained, to ensure the organisation is ship-shape and to apportion blame where that is needed and punishment where warranted.
He is the Commander of the Defence Force, Francis Agwi.
To him must fall the responsibility to answer for this latest unwarranted, undisciplined and gangster-like behaviour by those under his charge.
Agwi must let the public know what actually happened and what he is doing about it.
Under his watch, soldiers raided the Maloro Service Station just metres from this latest incident, causing much damage and forcing the closure of the service station.
Politicians condemned the incident to the high heavens and an investigation was started.
For all intent and purpose, this investigation must be still under way because we have not heard a whisper about any findings.
The Medical School incident has attracted much condemnation and another investigation.
We hope this investigation does not follow the previous one and die a natural death when the hue and cry is hushed up after a few days.
Disciplined forces have a very rigid command and control structure. Incidents of the nature under investigation must not be blamed on the individual soldiers involved and followed down to the one or two soldiers.
They must be followed up to the immediate commander in charge and he to the next person up the ladder and so on until the commander is reached.
To them must fall the blame.
They can take it out on their charges if they wish.
Cases of indiscipline rest with the commanding officer.
Likewise, credit for flashes of brilliance and commendable performances by soldiers must go to the commanding officer.
He is the one who calls the shots.
If those under him misbehave, it is he who must face the music.
And right now it is the commander of the PNGDF whose turn it is to take the floor.
The same applies to the police force and the Correctional Services.
Both have had their fair share of undisciplined and downright criminal behavior.
Again we note that politicians tend to call the shots which do nothing at all except deflect the attention away from where it is supposed to focus on.
In the incidents surrounding the warder/prisoner sex incident involving infamous jailbird William Nanua Kapris and the similar compromising circumstances under which the same prisoner escaped and remains at large, nobody has placed the blame squarely at the feet of the CS Commissioner and asked him to answer for this travesty which borders on criminal negligence.
Surely, it is he who is answerable for the indiscretions of the officers below him.
When you get to the head of the organisation, he will work down through the rank and file and will surely get to the bottom of the problem.
Unfortunate as it might be, that is the way the military, the constabulary and CS are structured.
We are glad to note that the police hierarchy is fairly clear on this front.
The constabulary headquarters has periodically given media statements on actions taken against their members, including criminal charges and dismissals.
Of course, there are many more instances of rogue behavior by policemen but it is good to have the head of the police force taking personal charge.
This is what must also happen in the PNGDF and in the CS.