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