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NEWS | Nov. 30, 2022

US INDO-PACIFIC Command and Papua New Guinea Force Chaplains Strengthen Relationship

By Damian G. Wampler

Capt. James Edwards, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chaplain, traveled to Papua New Guinea to build upon and strengthen the ties with Lt. Col. Mark Neapali, the force chaplain of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF).

Australian Defence Force’s Chaplain Thomas Zaranski of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, Townsville, joined Edwards and Neapali for the visit.

Edwards held exchanges with Neapali and Zaranski on the current status of the PNGDF chaplaincy, training for chaplains and future directions of the PNGDF Chaplaincy. Edwards and Neapali participated in one-on-one meetings with other chaplains to discuss future opportunities for engagement and shared perspectives on serving the spiritual needs of the armed forces of each branch.

Edwards praised the PNGDF chaplains’ service to their forces.

“Chaplain Neapali and his staff accomplish such an immensely important service to the service members of the Papua New Guinea Defence Forces,” said Edwards. “Their commitment to connecting the spiritual bond of the nation’s richly ingrained religious community in their day-to-day lives as defenders of the nation is inspiring to myself and to the people Chaplain Neapali reaches.”

Zaranski said he was honored and excited to visit Papua New Guinea, and humbled to represent the Australian Defence Force for the meeting with Neapali and Edwards.

“I commend Lt. Col. Neapali and his team for the very important work that they do every day supporting the members of the force, their families and the defence community,” said Zaranski. “ADF and PNGDF Chaplains have a longstanding relationship through Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program with PNG, and my team and I look forward to continuing to partner with our U.S. colleagues to support the PNG Chief of Defence Force’s aims, and the needs of the PNGDF community.”

Edwards and Zaranski also participated in the church service at St. Paul’s Military Chapel on Nov. 20.

“Joining Chaplain Neapali in their Church services was a wonderful way to participate in and learn how profoundly the communities connect to their faith,” said Edwards. “I look forward to many more discussions and engagements with the PNGDF Chaplaincy and finding ways to partner in their outlooks for the future.”

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