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Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF)

Vanuatu does not have a standing armed force, relying insrtead on the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) for both external and internal security. Where there is no external threat to the security of the Republic of Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Mobile Force is to assist the General duties branch of the Vanuatu Police Force to restore and maintain Law and Order, when and where necessary. Where there is an external threat to the security of the Republic of Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Mobile Force is to provide a limited but first line defence against external aggression.

The Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) was established of after Independence on 30 July 1980. Later in 1980 the 1st Intake of 120 personnel undertook Basic Military Training in Papua New Guinea with PNGDF, funded by Australia. In 1981 the 2nd Intake of 120 personnel attended basic military training in Papua New Guinea, again, funded by Australia. In 1982 the construction of new Barracks buildings and operation vehicles was funded by Australian Defence. The year 1994 saw the VMF first ever military peace keeping Deployment to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea of 50 strong officers. The year 2009 witnessed the replacement of Australian SLR rifles with the French FAMAS.

VMF areaas of duty include:

  1. Internal Security Duties, including Riot Control, Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations;
  2. Land based Search and Rescue Operations
  3. Land based Search and Clear Operations;
  4. Land based Disaster Relief Operations;
  5. Close Personal Protection for VIPs;
  6. Peace Operations and Peace Building;
  7. Operate the National Fire Service;
  8. Carryout Community Development Projects, including Limited Engineer Construction Tasks;
  9. Provide Transport, Communication, Armoury, Repair and Constructional Services for the Police Force.
  10. Regimental duties such as Guard of Honours, Credentials, Quarter guards

A study by a Special Task Force set up by the Government under its 100 Day Plan to separate the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF, the "M" sometimes expanded as "Military") from the Vanuatu Police General Duty was undertaken in February 2014. The government must set up a National Security Council under a White Paper Policy to ensure clear and distinct roles of the two Forces. This is vital also because currently 40% of the operational costs of the running of the 680 members of the VMF and the General Police Duty are funded by the Australian and the New Zealand Government under the existing agreement. This included the fuel and maintenance costs of the RVS Tukoro, apart from the salaries and wages borne by the Vanuatu Government. Since the creation of the VMF in 1980 along with the General Policing Duties, successive governments have always found it difficult to maintain 100% costs of the running and operations of the VMF and the General Policing Duties.

Representatives from Vanuatu were present on the Champs Elyses avenue in Paris for the yearly French national day parade on 14 July 2014. This year this day also commemorated the beginning of the First World War precisely one hundred years ago. Three Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) personnel paraded behind the Vanuatu flag among representatives from the 80 countries that took part in the war in some way.

The Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) continue to operate a single unified entity, which the Australian Government continues to support. One major goal of Australia's Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) over the three years [2015-2018] is to advise and assist in re-establishing an efficient and self-sustaining Police Maritime Wing working collaboratively with government departments and other stakeholders to ensure the sovereignty of Vanuatu's exclusive economic zone.

The DCP budget for Vanuatu in financial year 2013-14 is $745,000, with a focus on developing longer-term capacity within the VPF by providing support to the Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) Program, small-scale infrastructure projects and strategic dialogue. These activities are supported in-country by a Royal Australian Navy Maritime Surveillance Adviser and a Technical Adviser.

Australia's primary engagement activity with the VMF, Exercise Vanuatu Alliance, provides training in conducting joint police patrols, community engagement and enhancing the VMFs capability to respond to humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies. This approach seeks to support a useful role for the VMF and promote cooperation between VMF and VPF elements.

A training team from the Australian Army's 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment (51 FNQR) travelled to Vanuatu from 28 September to 24 October to train selected Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) personnel in the planning and execution of remote area operations as part of Exercise Vanuatu Alliance 2015. As part of the Australian Defence Force Cooperation Program, 51 FNQR has been travelling to Vanuatu to train the VMF every year since 1998. 51 FNQR returned to Vanuatu in 2016 to continue training and further strengthen the relationship between the Australian Defence Force and the VMF.

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