By REGINALD RENAGI
In recent years some academics and media pundits have suggested abolishing the PNG Defence Force as one future solution for the government.
All these critics fail to articulate clearly what this will solve; or even mean for PNG.
Whether this will be viable is something for PNG to decide.
If the government does decide in future to make this tough 'judgement call', then the government must be fully prepared to protect its future national interests in the best way it can.
Despite its short-comings, the PNGDF like any military; is a noble profession of arms.
A country's armed force is a necessary instrument of state politics.
Since history, the military has provided governments some kind of comprehensive insurance policy to defend its national interests.
Throughout the ages, the world over has had standing security forces to serve the state's purposes.
This will remain so, as long as people are inclined to the application of force to solve their social problems.
For as long as man has existed, people have been fighting forever.
The fighting will go on forever.
To think you can stop people fighting by taking away their weapons is an infantile notion to get much support in this country.
The government has proven this for years.
However, I am sure that one day, we will in our own way find a way around this universal problem.
Defence has several functions.
The PNGDF elements carry out various security roles and specific tasks relating to: surveillance and response, monitoring, enforcement and interdiction missions, maritime law enforcement/coastguard tasks, border patrols, intelligence collation and dissemination, aid to the civil community, civic action tasks/nation building, remote area medical patrols, coast-watch duties, search and rescue, "mercy missions", showing the flag in remote maritime localities, ambassadorial good-will visits by ships, peace support operations with neighbours, etc).
Its span of diversified responsibilities simultaneously overlap into agencies like: police, fisheries, customs, health, environment and conservation, foreign and provincial affairs, works and transport departments, provincial and community governments, and so on.
At present manning levels, the PNGDF is not at its minimum credible ceiling to satisfactorily meet ongoing missions.
Today, the PNGDF is grossly under manned with many hollow operational units as a result of enforced reductions across the board.
The fact is defence's regular manpower ceilings are too low.
The pool of well-trained, junior officers, junior non-commissioned officers and other key personnel is too small, and therefore, defence must now look at new manpower options.