The Army in Papua New Guinea: Current role and implications for independence

Author/s (editor/s):

Robert O'Neill

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

With the possibility, in July 1970, of having to use force against rioting civilians -land squatters near Rabaul - the Australian Army in New Guinea entered a new era in which its activities are bound to be the subject of close scrutiny as the country moves towards independence.

After filling in the historical background of the Pacific Islands Regiment, Dr O'Neill sets out to examine the present role of the Army in Papua-New Guinea: defence against external attack, maintenance of law and order, training of loyal, non-political soldiers, and the civic action program.

But what will the Army's future role be, and who will bear the cost? Is a military elite developing? The author concludes that Australia ought to continue to support the New Guinea armed forces for a considerable period- more from the point of view of smooth political development than from that of Australia's future defence interests in New Guinea.

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