By Theckla Gunga – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, marks the 68th year since the creation of the first battalion of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. The First Royal Pacific Islands Regiment based out of Taurama has served as the founding unit of PNGDF on the front line for many operations.
Its 68th anniversary coincided with the first anniversary for the battalion’s unit moto which was put up at the entrance into Taurama Barracks in May 2018.
A commemoration service held in Taurama on Tuesday morning included the trooping of the Regimental Colours. An important annual tradition that the men and women of the first battalion highly value, carefully guard and treat with respect. The low key celebration also honoured other members who had passed on while in the line of duty or through illness.
The first battalion was created on March 11, 1951 and became part of the Australian Army because of the political instability in the Asia Pacific Region. Its Delta Company moved to Wewak in 1965, under the then-PNG Military District Headquarters and formed what is now known as the Second Royal Pacific Islands Regiment.
The First Royal Pacific Islands Regiment remains the unit the Papua New Guinea Defence Force was born out of. Since 1951, it has been involved in a number of security operations, both locally and on the international level. This includes operations to Vanuatu in the 1980s, the Bougainville Crisis in the 1990s and Solomon Islands in 2003.
In the last ten years, members of IRPIR have taken the first line in most land security operations for the PNGDF. This includes the 2017 National Election, the APEC Security Operation and continuous deployments of the troops throughout Papua New Guinea during national disasters or State of Emergencies.