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Military short on soldiers, aircraft

THE PNG Defence Force is seriously short of manpower, planes and boats, says Commander Gilbert Toropo.
He said this at Murray Barracks headquarters on Sunday but could not give further details as he was stopped by his officers.
The force has been downsized from a 5000-plus force to the current 2000, while the Air Transport Wing and Maritime Element are now short of aircraft and boats, a far cry from what they used to be.
Toropo said the force would be enlisting more manpower this year and next year,
“Yes, that is our ongoing programme,” he said.
“The Government does direct us through the Defence White Paper to increase to 5000 manpower by 2017 because of the major events that the country is going to host, as well as the routine activities that we need to conduct.
“We have a 200-mile economic zone that needs to be covered, a land border that needs to be manned, so yes, recruitment is ongoing.
“We have personnel recruited all ready to go into training.
“Recruitment will be a major requirement for the force from now onwards.”
Toropo said the air wing had only two CASA fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters leased from the Royal Australia Air Force, as its aging Iroquois fleet of five was permanently grounded.
“At the moment, we have two CASAs, which are going through repair and renovation,” he said.
The maritime element, likewise, is in the same plight as the air wing. ONE PNG / The national

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