Papua New Guinea Officer Assumes Key Role in Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade.
In a groundbreaking move, Lieutenant Colonel Boniface Aruma from Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force (PNGDF) will take up the position as deputy commander of the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade in Townsville next year. This appointment marks the first instance of a foreign military officer achieving such a significant role in the Australian Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Aruma, with a service record spanning 27 years in the PNG army, voiced his enthusiasm, stating, “This is a monumental step for us as an organization. It represents the most senior position we’ve ever sent abroad.”
Having received his education in Australia, Aruma holds two master’s degrees from Deakin and the Australian National University in international relations and defence studies. He believes that both nations will see enhanced defence capabilities due to this collaboration. Aruma remarked on the shared values and aspirations of the two countries, emphasizing their mutual desire for a safe and secure Pacific region.
Speaking on the evolution of Australia-PNG relations, the outgoing deputy commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ken Golder, noted that this decision would cultivate a direct and genuine connection at the heart of the brigade’s leadership. This step further reinforces the already active exchange and training programs between the two forces.
While foreign officers serving in allied armies isn’t new, the involvement of Pacific neighbours in such roles is. There is value of this partnership, as it offers insights into PNGDF’s strategic, operational, and tactical planning. Moreover, it underscores the equality in the Australia-PNG relationship, distancing from any superior-subordinate dynamic.