The Chief of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General Gilbert Toropo departed our shores to attend the 2021 Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) conference hosted by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) in Hawaii from 16 to 18 August.
This annual conference is designed to bring together selected Chiefs of Defence to discuss, promote and practically strengthen military-to-military ties and advance defence collaboration on security challenges within the Indo Pacific Region.
This year’s focus will be on “Strengthening Partnership Networks through Peace and Security”.
Major General Gilbert Toropo said PNG, as a nation in the Indo- Pacific Region, will always work closely with the regional nations and its neighboring countries.
PNGDF takes security seriously as it is critical in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Importantly, PNG needs that support from our international partners in maintaining security in our region.
“PNGDF is working closely with other military partners to promote and strengthen military-to-military ties. Some security challenges are beyond our capacity to manage it ourselves therefore such interactions are needed to maintain our mutual working relationship,” General Toropo said.
The Indo-Pacific CHODs is an important part of United States Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIPs), and compliments other US sponsored seminars and defence collaboration programmes with regional allies and partners.
These include exercises such as the recently completed, highly successful, Exercise TAMIOK STRIKE 21 based out of Port Moresby and Lae.
“Our Military partners have been facilitating these opportunities for small island nations in the Pacific and we have been part of these conferences. It is an opportunity too, to share experiences of other militaries on how they are managing the covid-19 situation in their countries.”
Annual attendance at CHODs has grown from six enlisted countries in 2016 to 33 countries in 2018, with an expected attendance of twenty-two this year, although due to Covid 19 some attendees will be virtual only.
Whilst there are programmed agenda items with input from invited experts in certain subject areas, another focus is to allow for sessions for CHODs to engage among themselves to freely discuss national, regional and international issues.
As part of this series of INDOPACOM sponsored seminars and conferences, PNG will co-chair the upcoming Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conference, which will discuss “Environmental Impacts on Land and Littoral Operations”, also to be held in Hawaii from the 14 to 16 September. This is a great honour for PNG and the PNGDF to selected to be co-chairs and reflects our strong ties, and the high professional regard with which we held, by our regional partners.