Deputy Head of Mission – Australian High Commission,
Head of Australian Defence Staff,
Members of the PNGDF,
Families and Friends of Australia,
Ladies and Gentlemen. Members of Kumul Force 17 - Welcome Home!
Thank you, for the service you have done in assistance to Australian Bushfire in which we were engaged, I present you my sincere thanks on behalf of the country. Words are powerless, but our humble gratitude for your service on behalf of the 8.5 million people of Papua New Guinea when the call came across the sea from our friend, Australia.
You cross the sea to stand side by side with our friends again, like our forefathers did along the Kokoda Trail, but this time against a different enemy – the force of Flame. We did not deploy with material things or wealth enough to ease the pain in the hearts of our friends affected, but we brought our hearts to share in their grief and pain.
Australia has been Papua New Guinea’s longtime close friend with well-established Defence relations between the two countries militaries. Also Australia is always the first responder in times of need or disaster in Papua New Guinea. Kumul Force 17 deployment to Australian Bushfire Assistance is a kindness returned for a kindness given by Australia in our times of need.
Today’s interconnected world means that whatever happens on one side of the house will invariable has impacts or effects on the other. It is therefore, essential that we understand and learn from the global security environment when we look to design our own security policy and strategies and develop a Defence Force that is equipped, trained and ready to respond to it within days.
Papua New Guinea’s national security interests must be based on an understanding of the regional and global security risks and compliment the security strategies of our partners and friends as we move, together, to construct a safer and more secure region and world.
As the largest of the small Pacific island nations, PAPUA NEW GUINEA has a prominent role in the region. This requires the PNGDF to develop capabilities that can contribute to stability within the region, particularly in the areas of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, in cooperation with regional and international partners. Papua New Guinea’s offer to support Australia’s bushfire response is a gesture of assurance to a close friend in times of crisis. Papua New Guinea may not have the
specialized capabilities and resources, but we offer our hearts and our hands to the Australian people. A burn or a hurt in an Australian flesh is also a burn and a hurt in a Papua New Guinean flesh. Together we burn, together we grieve!
I am very pleased for the Minister for Defence, Chief of Defence Force and the Secretary for Defence, and all the Government Departments, Agencies and institutions involved in supporting Kumul Force 17 during their period of deployment to assist Australia in the bushfire response effort.
Papua New Guinea’s national security goals and the fundamental principles underpinning the Government’s expectations of the PNGDF require it to support Papua New Guinea’s security, resilience, and wellbeing across abroad range of activities.
- The PNGDF will provide significant value to Papua New Guinean villages & communities, the region, and the world under the new Defence Policy - Force 2030: Many Nations, One Force. The PNG Defence Force will:
Support Papua New Guinea’s villages & communities, and environmental wellbeing and resilience of our people.
- Promote a safe, secure, and resilient Papua New Guinea, including at its borders and approaches. Contribute to maintaining Papua New Guinea’s prosperity via secure air, sea, land and electronic lines of communication, and secure access to space-based services.
- Contribute to the maintenance of the international rules-based order, and to Papua New Guinea’s network of strong international relationships.
The PNGDF therefore, need to have adaptable, innovative personnel; robust and resilient infrastructure; deployable mission-capable forces; and the ability to enlarge the PNGDF at relatively short notice if required. This should allow the PNGDF to absorb shocks and respond appropriately if required internally and externally during events such as this – the Australian Bushfire Assistance.
This is the 17th time since Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea as country has deployed a large body of troops overseas. The Vanuatu deployment was known as KUMUL FORCE ONE (1), 2 to 16 was deployed to the Solomon Islands, and this deployment to Australian Bushfire is: KUMUL FORCE 17.
KUMUL FORCE 17
You have made PNG proud by working alongside your Australian counterparts in the effort to assist the many affected by the flames of hell. Thank you for your inspiration and mannerism to those affected by the bushfire. Your most casual remarks will be remembered by those you crossed path with.
As months and years pass and the future slides into the present, there will be new heart breaks as the affected families and communities plan for recovery, and then realize there is nothing there. Their grieving is not just for the loss of what was but also for what will never be, because they will have to start all over again.
It is only in the military service, where men and women freely sacrifice their lives for a faith, where they are willing to suffer and die for the right or the prevention of crisis or assist other people in such disasters. You have done well alongside your Australian Defence Force counterparts.
Finally, on behalf of the Marape/Steven Government and people of PNG, allow me to thank the Australian Government, the Australian people and the ADF for supporting Kumul Force 17 during their deployment and return them home safely. Together we are strong; together we make our region safer.
Thank you! Welcome Home!