Change of guard at ministry of defence

Member for Telefomin Solan Mirisim today assumed the role as Minister for Defence replacing Member for Okapa Saki Soloma.

In the recent reshuffle by Prime Minister James Marape, Soloma heads the Ministry of Rural Development and Energy.

It was a beautiful parade displayed this morning by the PNGDF personnel at Murray Barracks headquarters to farewell and welcome the ministers.

Part of the parade team

Mirisim previously served as the Defence Minister so it was not a new ministry to head except that the ministry has other government heads of Fire Services, National Volunteer Services and National Disaster Office now under the ministry.

“It is fitting for someone who is a former minister knows the challenges to progress it,” Soloma said.

PNGDF Commander Brigadier Gilbert Toropo after the parade also shared similar sentiments.

He said if anyone is able to manage the Defence organization with the other line agencies, they should be able to do well in other ministries.

Soloma took over the ministry in May 2019 and he carried on from what Mirisim had left off.

Some of the defence strategic policy developments they have progressed are the Manus naval base re-development.

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Soloma said the project is in two parts and the first is to do with the support facilities for the new Guardian Class Patrol Boats that are being gifted to PNGDF by the Australian Government.

This basically is to upgrade the current facilities so that it can support the four new Guardian Class Patrol Boats which are bigger than the current Pacific Class Patrol Boats.

The second part he says is a project with the US is still in the concept phase where studies are being conducted to see if it is feasible before any announcement can be made for any US support.

He said the PNGDF was also able to deploy Kumul17 Force Element personnel to Australia to help with relief efforts.

The other operations they did was supporting operations of Covid-19 where their health personnel were deployed with operational troops along the international land border making sure movement between PNG and Indonesia were monitored, controlled and action taken where needed.

Soloma also noted security operations in the highlands and national building and civic work projects.

Commander Gilbert Toropo gifts a painting to Saki Soloma

Mirisim said he knows well that 2022 is election year and he has limited time to introduce new policy initiatives.

“My intention is to ensure outstanding priorities and government directives to the defence organization is completely implemented,” he said.

He has commended Soloma for restructure of the Department of Defence and the Department of Personnel Management has approved and they have completed the corporate plan for 2020 to 2030.

Mirisim said the current legislation requires the government to seek parliamentary approval for any international engagement as in the case of assisting the Australians devastated by bush fire.

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“During emergency, recalling of Parliament is not feasible. Therefore the International Obligations Act, 2010 is amended to allow government to send troops through an NEC approval,” he said.

Mirisim said today there will be no general enlistment in the PNGDF.

“This will allow PNGDF to take stock of its resources including infrastructure  and the future PNGDF organization structure.”

“PNG Defence Organisation will now work with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Science and Technology to ensure all future general enlistments are done through school leaver forms and directly from our educational institutions.”

Minister Mirisim concluded in saying the governments policy intention is to see the PNG Defence Organisation maximise its value using its dead assets to raise additional income to fund its shortfalls in the budget.

“The Commercial Support Program was created to transit to the Defence Commercial Company consistent with NEC decision number NG:71/2012.

“ Currently CSP has been in operation for over a decade. It is clearly my intention to ensure CSP migrates to a commercial company which is able to have a balance sheet and conduct itself in the global business environment,” Mirisim said.


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