By ALISON ANIS
FOR the first time in its history, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force will have women officers serving full-time alongside their male counterparts in the military service of the country.
Twenty-one female soldiers were among a batch of 119 new recruits who have successfully passed out from the Goldie Barracks Training Depot.
The moving ceremony on Saturday was witnessed by Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, PNGDF acting commander Commodore Peter Ilau and members of the PNGDF, families and friends.
Unfazed by the hot sun, the recruits in their full military attire and carrying military rifles, marched in an hour-long parade at the Goldie Barracks drill area.
With the army band marching at the rear, the recruits were in full force as they demonstrated various skills of parade and their performance was met with big applause from the spectators.
It was a particularly proud moment for some of the parents who wept openly upon seeing their daughters joining the military service.
Sir Paulias was emotional when addressing the new recruits.
“The body of young people we see on parade before us represent a special group of young people who stand apart from their peers nationwide and rightfully, earned the accolades of being the first ever PNGDF recruit intake to include young women, enlisting as regular service personnel into the PNG Defence Force,” Sir Paulias said.
He told them that while they had met the requirements of becoming soldiers, they must remember that from this day on, they were soldiers and the nature of the duties required of them would involve great sacrifice.
Sir Paulias told the young women on parade that they had achieved an important milestone in their lives and had proved to the nation that the PNGDF was ready to take females into its ranks and they were ready to face the challenges that come as part and parcel of such an undertaking.
He told the young women that they had to become familiar with policy guidelines and conditions of service.