Newspaper article from the ‘Townsville Herald’ August 1969

An Extract

The following article was kept by Greg Ivey from his time in Townsville prior to being sent to PNG… The information was provided to the newspaper by the Minister for the Army at the time, Phillip Lynch. Note especially the last couple of paragraphs.

“One of the most important tasks of the Australian Army is to assist the development of an effective indigenous military force in New Guinea. Some Communist nations within the United Nations have levelled criticism at Australia’s defence activities within the Territory. That this criticism is unfounded is clear when we realise the purpose of the Pacific Islands Regiment as an essential part of the Australian Government’s general blueprint of guidance for self-determination.

I have visited Australian Army units and installations throughout the Territory and was particularly impressed with the evident progress of the Pacific Islands Regiment.

(Australians may not be) .. aware of the two established infantry battalions of the PIR and the job they are doing for the Territory not only in their training as a defence force but in carrying out community development tasks in the course of their regular patrolling.

……
To provide the force with permanent accommodation and training establishments throughout the Territory, a $40 million building program has almost been completed.
……

The current basic roles of the Army in the Territory may be summed up as:
– to build an efficient national Army constituted of indigenes and capable of playing a vital role in the defence of PNG.
– to provide for the future a well-disciplined, stable and reliable indigenous force completely loyal to the administration or government of PNG.

Preparation for the first role naturally includes the normal military training one would expect in infantry battalions and, in addition, units undertake regular patrols into most parts of the Territory.

The second role, however, is particularly interesting in its training aspect. The key words are ‘loyal’, ‘well-disciplined’, ‘stable’ and ‘reliable’. Emphasis is placed on loyalty to the legally constituted authority. This is implicit in the Australian Government’s aim of developing the Territory a sound political structure in which the Public Service, the Constabulary and the Army have all been thoroughly trained in the concept of subordination to the legally constituted democratic government. The Army in the Territory is putting forth a heavy education effort with a dual purpose -to assist the provision of trained and educated manpower by broadening the soldiers’ educational base and to assist in promotion of those characteristics and beliefs which are considered essential to the development of a loyal and disciplined Army in a modern democratic society.

To this end, formal education in English, Arithmetic, Science and Social Studies is given; while each soldier attends lectures and participates in group discussions on civics and ethics. Soldiers are encouraged to develop a pride in the history and the unique culture of the Territory, and an understanding of its present institutions and its development towards the goal of a modern self-governing nation.

Through the efforts of the Royal Australian Educational Corps, social training and general education are now receiving attention comparable to that given to soldiering. The educational work is being carried out by a team of 60 Australian Army teachers. Their work is most impressive and their work deserves special recognition.

It is worth noting that two-thirds of the teachers are National Servicemen who, after basic military training, are primarily concerned with education duties with the Army in New Guinea, concurrently with their own continuation of training.”

*

(The article goes on to discuss the civic action work of the Army. Quite a number of you were involved in this and may be interested in this part of the clipping. Contact Greg or me if you want a full copy of the article.)
* Editor’s emphasis

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