The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) was established, with Australian assistance, at Independence in 1975. The Force’s only action outside PNG was in 1980 when the Government agreed to a request from Father Walter Lini, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, for assistance in suppressing a rebel attempt to capture government. The only other military action has been the attempt to regain the North Solomons Province from secessionist Bougainville Revolutionary Army rebels. Infantry units conduct sporadic patrols along the PNG-Indonesia border and collect information on the movements of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka rebels in Irian Jaya and Indonesian troops. Defense force personnel also apprehend unauthorized fishing vessels, and assist civilian authorities in natural disaster emergencies and public works such as roads and wharves. The PNGDF is almost entirely army (approximately 3,500). There is a small navy (approximately 300) and air force (approximately 150).
In 1975 there were approximately 700 Australian military personnel in PNG. In 1990 there were 90. Since Independence Australia has provided a special military aid grant, trainers and technical advisors. The Australian Defence Force has also supported civil engineering, communications and surveying projects of other PNG agencies. Senior members of the PNGDF have gone to Australia for advanced training. PNG and Australia conduct combined military exercises. The security arrangements between Australia and PNG are incorporated in the Joint Declaration of Principles (1988). In 1992/3 Australia’s military aid grant was A$31 million.