Home > mining, Papua New Guinea > PNG plans military build-up, but why?

PNG plans military build-up, but why?

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Donald Gumbis in The Interpreter

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and an intern at the Lowy Institute.

Papua New Guinea’s Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok has announced that PNG plans to build up its military capacity from around 2000 personnel to 10,000.

While it is hardly unusual for fast-growing resource-rich countries to increase military spending as their national ambitions expand, Papua New Guinea has yet to address very significant development challenges in basic health and education. Increased spending on the military in such circumstances must therefore be questioned.

Why does Papua New Guinea need a larger military capacity? One factor in the Government’s consideration could be the land border with Indonesia. The border skirmishes between the traditional people of PNG’s Sandaun Province and Indonesian military spotlight the PNG Government’s inattention to border issues. These issues pose a test for the Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Cooperation PNG has with Indonesia.

In a Radio Australia interview, former PNGDF Commander General Jerry Singirok noted key issues of concern with the announcement. He said there was no PNGDF White Paper to guide this proposed expansion, the PNG Government has never prioritised defence spending and there would be a substantial cost involved in rebuilding a downsized force.

The ongoing retrenchment exercise of close to 2000 personnel, which began in 1999, is a difficult issue that the Defence Department is still not adequately addressing. Further to that, there are challenges for the PNGDF to raise its performance level and the security of its weaponry. The recent mutiny case, insubordination and misconduct of soldiers all undermine the ministerial statement.

Policy announcements have tended to be more frequent than policy implementation in Papua New Guinea. But if this announcement reflects a serious intention by the PNG Government, it warrants more discussion.

  1. February 16, 2013 at 9:48 am

    PNG’s population and resource base are some of the prerequisites for the increase in defence capacity, both personnel and resources. Our resources make us envy of many nations and thus a stable and an advance military is needed. On the other hand, such move must not come at the opportunity cost of other vital developmental areas including road, education, health and law & order. There must be a balanced approach. The fact is that PNG has got the money but through corrupt and dubious claims and deals, billions are lost. The GOv’t needs to apply strict and tight regulations on pinning down corruption at all levels of governance.

  2. pontuna2run
    February 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

    With our miserable presence at our borders and the chance to gain employment for ten thousand pngians why not. they can also.back ipod police.

    November 5, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Savvy writing . I was enlightened by the insight . Does anyone know where my business might get a University Of Goroka document to complete ?

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