In the coming days, two American C-17 Globemaster transport planes will bring in 20 vehicles as part of Papua New Guinea preparations for the arrival of U.S President Joe Biden.
All eyes will be on APEC Haus as the President meets with Pacific Island leaders, dubbed “the Island” APEC Haus will be the most watched building in the country if not the entire Pacific region.
On Sunday, four security armored vehicles were flown into Port Moresby and were under heavy escort out of the Jackson International Airport.
Just Sunday afternoon another lot of vehicles was brought in as momentum builds up to the first ever visit by a sitting President to a Pacific island nation.
Another 16 vehicles will be arriving over the next few days. The presidential limousine, popularly referred to as The Beast, Marine One and security detachments are expected to arrive before the President touches down in Port Moresby.
White House officials also arrived in the country on the weekend to join an advanced Secret Service team that flew in last week.
About 1,000 local security personnel, both PNG Defence Force and Police will be assisting about 200 members of Biden’s security team.
The Correctional Service team is on standby to assist, CS Commissioner Stephen Pokanis said.
From the police, the special services division (SSD) will be providing 200 men from the mobile squad, 36 from the national security unit, 20 from the air wing unit and several members from the bomb squad, bringing the total to 241 men.
Other units who will be involved include the NCD dog unit, the water police, police headquarters, Bomana police college, Central Province police, the incident management team, and the planning and co-ordination team. NCD police will support with 150 men and women.
Minister for Internal Security Peter Tsiamalili Jr confirmed the collaboration between the PNG task force who will work hand in hand with US security and intelligence teams, as well as the Indian intelligence.
“To ensure a seamless experience for our Pacific leaders, we will be conducting a dry run on Wednesday, 17 May.
“This will involve running through the airport arrival procedures, as well as the routes from the Apec Terminal to the Apec Haus,” Tsiamalili said.
“We are expecting a full support team from the White House and the Indian Prime Minister’s office to accompany their respective leaders.”
The National Co-ordination Centre will be operating from Morauta House and will accommodate the different local agencies.
The Post-Courier understands that the airspace around APEC Haus will be closed to all aircraft while President Biden meets with Prime Minister James Marape and 18 leaders from the Pacific.
Security will also be tight at sea, with ships to be guarding around the APEC Haus, which has been labelled as “the island”.
Sniper teams will be stationed around APEC Haus and the airport.
Meanwhile, there are concerns in Papua New Guinea (PNG) that the country will be dragged into the militarisation of the Pacific if it signs a security pact with the United States.
America is poised to sign a deal with PNG which would give US armed forces uninhibited access to PNG’s territorial waters and airspace.
RNZ Pacific has seen a draft copy of an agreement that will be signed off when US President Joe Biden makes a historic visit to PNG next week on Monday.
The document outlines the terms and conditions for preferential access to various PNG sea and airports.
“Aircraft, vehicles, and vessels operated by or on behalf of U.S forces, may enter, exit, and move freely within the territory and territorial waters of Papua New Guinea with respect for the relevant rules of air, land, and maritime safety movement. Such aircraft, vehicles, and vessels shall be free from boarding and inspection without the consent of the US. Papua New Guinean authorities may grant blanket clearance for such aircraft, vehicles, and vessels in accordance with mutually agreed procedures,” article 10 of the draft pact states.
The Papua New Guinea facilities the U.S is seeking access to include Lae Nadzab Airport, Lae Seaport, Lombrum Naval Base, Momote Airport on Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands, Jackson International Airport in the capital and the Port Moresby Seaport.
“Such Agreed Facilities and Areas may be used for mutually agreed activities including: visits; training; exercises, maneuvers; transit; support and related activities; refuelling of aircraft; landing and recovery of aircraft; including aircraft that may conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities.”
It adds: “bunkering of vessels; maintenance of vehicles, vessels, and aircraft; accommodation of personnel; communications; staging and deploying of forces and material; prepositioning of equipment, supplies, and material; security assistance and cooperation activities; joint and combined training activities; humanitarian and disaster relief; contingency operations; and other activities mutually agreed by the Parties of their Executive Agents.”
RNZ Pacific has also been told concerns are circulating within PNG government departments and agencies that the proposed deal may be unconstitutional.
Of particular concern are immunity clauses for U.S defence personnel operating in the country.
There are also fears that signing the pact will draw PNG into the militarisation of the region as it pertains to the AUKUS security pact.
Signed by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS will see Canberra forking out more than AU$360 billion (US$240 billion) over three decades to acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines.
RNZ Pacific has reached out to the White House and the Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape’s office for comment.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS