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Government Reopens Joint Services College in Lae

by Scott Waide – EM TV News, Lae

After 26 years the national government has reopened the Joint Services College at Lae’s Igam Barracks to, once again, train officers from the Defence Force (PNGDF), Correctional Service (CS) and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC).

The last batch of officers graduated in 1980 – the year when the PNGDF saw its first overseas deployment during Vanuatu’s struggle for Independence.

On Monday, the college will begin its first classes with a new batch of army, CS and police officers rolling through.

The opening of the college comes at a time when there is a high demand for good leadership across the three disciplinary services.

It also comes when there is a need to meet the increasing regional and cross border security demands, also marking a significant investment into national security.

Selected members of the three disciplinary services will be sent to Igam to undergo two years of training.

“We want to produce good leaders but we also want them to build personal relationships,” Defence Minister, Dr. Fabian Pok said.

In 1973, the PNG government approved the establishment of the joint services training college. 

The college operated for five years until the last batch of officers graduated in 1980. The reopening is part of a shift in government attitude since Bougainville and the Sandline Crisis after which successive governments starved the PNGDF of its ability to equip and sustain itself. 

“When we came through here, the training centered around how to lead men and women. As Commissioner, that is what I want for my men and women,” Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, a pioneer of the college said.

But there are significant challenges ahead. The Lae Area Commander, Col. Carl Wrakonei, made it known to the ministers and heads of the services that the college would require a separate budget because current funding from the Police, Defence Force and CS was not be adequate to sustain the running of the college into the future.

It is hoped that once teething problems are resolved, members of disciplinary forces from other Pacific islands within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) of countries will be invited to train here as well.

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