By REGINALD RENAGI
It is time the Government audits the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
Since independence, the PNGDF still has many challenges.
The current state of hibernation is a result of constant failures by successive administration over the years.
Today, the whole defence organisation has seriously eroded its institutional capacity to an unacceptable level and is in danger of being like the rest of PNG’s dysfunctional public service.
In recent years, several citizens have expressed concerns for our government to start seriously addressing our national security situation.
The situation today is as apart from the government's constant lip-service, it has for some time now undermined PNG's national security for many years.
It has failed to ensure our defence force is appropriately equipped to effectively carry our core functions well.
The present state of affairs in the military clearly demonstrates a lack of a long-term vision by successive governments.
More so, successive defence administration has done little to address in any substantial way its ongoing deficiencies in a more holistic approach.
So besides auditing the military, which all state agencies should also be subjected to; the government needs to look at its national security 'big picture'.
Here we must ensure defence policy compliments foreign policy and ask what does the government expects the PNGDF to do in future?
The government should do this taking into account PNG’s enduring strategic circumstances, and the national resources at our disposal.
The challenge is now before the Defence Ministry and should include concerned members of the public to have an input into the formulation of both new defence and foreign policy framework through the media, and other appropriate public forums.
A proper independent audit is required and the way to do this properly is systematic self-appraisals regularly carried out during both the commander's tour of duty and the Defence secretary's term of office.
The Defence secretary and commander can always do an ongoing audit process as a continuous improvement strategy.
This must be done as a routine process of Defence's total quality management corporate policy.
So at every occasion of handing over command of the defence force to a new commander and the department to a new secretary, the government through the Ministry would always be up to date on the overall health, and or state of its national security regime.
In this way, over time; the PNG government will systematically make the required improvements to defence.
Furthermore, the government must start thinking in new ways to initiate some policy intervention measures to allow its military in being best placed for positive development outcomes in future.
Here, we also need to look now at out present disposition and analyse whether relocating key assets to areas will greatly enhance our homeland security better.
The Ministry must now put out a new defence white paper with a revised reform programme mandated by the defence department under the auspices of the secretary. This must ensure all planned programs and activities for the Ministry are properly budgeted for, and not done in a somewhat ad hoc manner as has been the norm in recent times.
In this way, the PNGDF will be more appropriately resourced.
PNG must now increase its manpower ceiling to meet the country's internal security and development needs as well as the protection of its territorial sovereignty, and resources.