Now is the time for all good citizens
Maladina petition ceremony tomorrow

Time to get serious about a coastguard


PNG'S NATIONAL security since independence has remained no better than static, and it’s time the government started to get serious about it.

For a start, the whole Defence organisation must be completely overhauled as part of the government's national strategic plan 2010-50.

The Defence Ministry must improve its capacity in several critical areas, and there are a lot of them.

Command, management, leadership, culture and effectiveness, assets and facilities, administration processes, strategic policies, programs and projects, military rules and regulations, conditions of service for active members and retirees (pensioners), and ancillary services.

This challenge is now before our government. There have been a lot of hollow speeches by politicians over the years that are nothing more than platitudes.

Such useless speeches only give people unnecessarily high expectations come election time and, soon after getting into public office, politicians forget about improving our country's security.

Politicians have yet to develop the required statesman skills. They must be educated in what defence is about and what it can do to develop PNG.

Defence has an important nation-building function mandated by the constitution. The defence organisation can contribute immensely to national security, development and unity of PNG if it is adequately resourced. 

Since independence, defence employees have been very loyal, committed and dedicated to successive governments. Over the years, service personnel have been inculcated with the noble ethos of diligently serving God, Queen and Country.  his military mindset makes defence very different from the dysfunctional bureaucracy we have now.

Despite some inherent deficiencies, defence is a more loyal and committed state employee than any other national agency. This has unfortunately been a one-way street.

Our elected representatives are plain ignorant about key issues affecting national security. PNG needs far-sighted visionary leadership that will address national security today - not in another 33 years.

The Ministry and its defence council must demand more from our government for a better deal for defence. Defence officials must no longer be reticent about getting the government to put its money where its mouth is about national security.

Defence has become a national disgrace because our country's leadership has consistently failed it and I urge senior defence officials to effectively articulate this to parliamentarians.

We only have to see what our neighbours' armed forces are doing to make us feel ashamed of our own lack of real leadership.

PNG has the resources to change defence's present status. If not, our country will be seriously compromised.

The government needs to set up its own independent National Coastguard Service by 2012, which would serve PNG well by contributing directly towards security and economic development.

The coastguard will represent a new maritime security regime generating and protecting revenue and will enhance PNG's national security.

I suggest government planners incorporate this option as a key priority development program within the national strategic development plan.

The writer is a former patrol boat commander and defence chief


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Bruce Copeland

I am writing to express a quiet sense of pride at the promotion of Brigadier-General Francis Agwi to Commander of the Papua Defence Force.

I have known him for a long time from the days he was an officer cadet at the Joint Services College at Igam Barracks in 1977. I was an Australian officer who took part in Officer Training, including training of Officer Cadet Agwi.

He was a quiet officer, respected by staff and fellow officer cadets. Looking back now it is not difficult to see why he followed his career path to the top. I have known him in recent years as the Commanding Officer at Goldie River Training Depot when I was staying at Laloki.

My most vivid memory of General Agwi came the night he was going to town from Igam Barracks with a group of fellow cadets. A taxi arrived and officer cadet Agwi stepped forward to stop a taxi which failed to stop. The commander-to-be was hit and thrown several metres into the air.

General Agwi has expressed a policy towards polygamy of soldiers and domestic violence. It is hoped that he will address the social issues that surround the soldiers of the PNGDF and seek to build the stability and strength of PNGDF families.

Recent reports show a massive decline in sexual discipline of soldiers on three major bases, Murray Barracks, Taurama Barracks and Igam Barracks, particularly in the single soldiers’ quarters, opening the door to HIV/AIDS among soldiers and families.

Let us hope he will still step into the path of the massive problems of the PNGDF as he did that night long ago. Now he has experience and authority to back him up as he did not have before. General Agwi is an officer of the old school.

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