PNG DEFENSE FORCE WILL BEGIN RECRUITING WOMEN AS SOLDIERS THIS YEAR

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 11, 1999 - The Post Courier)---Papua New Guinea will begin enlisting women into the Army by the end of the year.

Apart from direct entries, there are no women soldiers. The direct entries are lawyers and medical officers who joined as civilians and undergo a six-month basic training program at Igam Barracks in Lae.

The involvement of women in the force is part of a Defense White Paper, which was launched last night at Port Moresby by Prime Minister Bill Skate.

With the theme, "Service To Others,'' the defense aims to lay the foundation to carry PNGDF into the next millennium as an highly trained and disciplined force with new control and command structures.

Enlisting women into the force is a positive step in the force's drive towards nation building, according to officials. The force has an increasingly important role to play in national development.

The White Paper also looks at setting up the regional engineering bases; to be located in Banz, (Highlands), Madang (Mamose) and Kimbe (Islands) to facilitate greater participation by the force across the nation.

The Paper highlights the need to boost capacity to help in medical civic action programs and make available a preventive medical platoon that will respond to government directives in case of emergencies or long-term preventive medicine campaigns.

In order to meet government's interest in putting additional defense resources into nation building, the Paper will look at the need to reactivate the school cadet program next year.

The plan also looks at defense links with neighbors such as Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and other Pacific Islands and countries in East Asia.

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