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Papua New Guinea - Land Element

The Land element is primarily a light infantry force capable of conducting low-tempo operations only. The army's role is to protect against external aggression, provide for internal security in support of the police, and to carry out civic action and relief operations when required. The engineer battalion is used for civic action with construction and reticulation capabilities, while the two infantry battalions also constructs roads, bridges and other infrastructure in regions where commercial companies are unwilling to work for security reasons.

Command HQ (Port Moresby) with forces consisting of the following:

  • two light Infantry battalions (1 RPIR at Port Moresby and 2 RPIR at Wewak).
  • one Engineer battalion (Lae) noting a Platoon (-) located in Banz, Western Highlands.
  • PNGDF Signals Squadron (Port Moresby).
  • SF Company based in Goldie River Training Depot (long range reconnaissance unit).
  • Military Cadet School (PNG Defence Academy).

The First Battalion, Royal Pacific Island Regiment (1RPIR) is the senior unit of the PNGDF. It was raised by the Australian Army on the 11th of March 1951 in Taurama Barracks, Port Moresby. It is a light infantry battalion that contains four rifle companies; a support company that contains reconnaissance, signals, mortar, field engineers, the regimental aid post, and band platoon (pipes and drums); and an administrative company that consists of supply, preventive medicine, transport and general engineering elements. 1RPIR is responsible for security along the land border with Indonesia in the Western Province. It has a forward operational base in Kiunga, a forward maintenance base in Daru, and forward patrol posts in Weam and Bula. It is also required to provide support for the PNGDF core tasks of sovereignty protection; civil emergency assistance in security, humanitarian and disaster relief; nation building; and international obligations.

The Second Battalion, Royal Pacific Island Regiment (2RPIR) is a light infantry battalion that is based in Moem Barracks, Wewak. It contains four rifle companies; a support company that contains reconnaissance, signals, mortar, field engineers, medics and a regimental aid post, and band platoon (pipes and drums); and an administrative company that consists of supply, preventive medicine, transport and garrison engineering elements. 2RPIR is responsible for security along the land border with Indonesia in the Sandaun Province. It has a forward operational base in Vanimo, and a forward patrol post in Wutung. It is also required to provide support for the PNGDF core tasks of sovereignty protection; civil emergency assistance in security, humanitarian and disaster relief; nation building; and international obligations.

The PNGDF Engineers since its inception into the PNGDF from PIR Assault Pioneer Platoons on 1st September 1976 has started off very well under the command of the Australian Army then. Since the Formation of the PNGDF Engineer Corp on the 01st September 1976, the Corp has a directorate and an operational unit. The PNGDF Directorate of Engineers core function is basically logistics support to the PNGDF in infrastructure requirements and engineer technical advice. The PNGDF Engineer Battalions core function is to provide Field Engineer combat support to PNGDF and carry out selected tasks in aid of PNG government for nation building and civil emergencies. Over the last 40 years of the PNGDF Engineer Corps history, the Corp has successfully conducted and delivered more than 900 vertical and horizontal civic action projects mostly in the remote parts of PNG fulfilling PNGDF Core Task 3. In military the primary role of PNGDF Engineers is to provide geospatial, mobility, counter-mobility, survivability and sustainability support to the PNGDF. The secondary role of PNGDF Engineers is to fight as infantry.

The Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (LRRU) is the PNGDFs premier special forces. It is a strategic asset that provides reconnaissance (recon) and counter terrorism (CT) capability for the PNGDF. It is responsible for providing specialist recon and CT elements that can deploy at very short notice by Land, Sea and Air.

The Joint Services College (JSC) is the PNGDFs premier officer cadet training institution. It is based in Igam Barracks, Lae, and contains instructor support and facilities for training officer cadets. It is currently responsible for training and preparing officer cadets for careers in the PNGDF, Royal PNG Constabulary (RPNGC) and Correctional Services (CS). It develops and promotes physical fitness, discipline, leadership, ethics, attitude, management and planning skills within its officer cadet trainees.

  • Murray Barracks became the headquarters of the PNGDF when the force was formed in January 1973 out of Australias land army.
  • Apart from Murray, there are two other barracks Goldie Army Training Barracks and the Taurama Barracks of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment One.
  • Wewak in East Sepik hosts the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment Two at Moem Barracks.
  • Laes Igam Barracks hosts the engineering battalion.
  • Company strength outstations are located in Kiunga, Western, Vanimo in West Sepik and in Kerowil, Jiwaka.

The National Government outlined the roles and functions of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) according to section 202 of the National Constitution. That is to defend PNG and its sovereignty; assist in the fulfilment of PNGs international obligations; provide assistance in the restoration of public order and security; provide for humanitarian assistance and disaster response; and to contribute to national development tasks.

The army has no significant experience in operations above platoon level, although a small number of individuals have been trained in Australia and New Zealand in company and battalion level operations. The only significant external deployments since independence were the rotation of battalions in Bougainville in the period 1989 -1997 on counterinsurgency operations and a force deployed to Vanuatu in 1980 to stop rebels from disrupting that country's transition from a colony to an independent sovereign nation. The Engineer battalion now constructs roads, bridges and other infrastructure in regions where commercial companies are unwilling to work for security reasons.





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