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NEWS | May 14, 2024

U.S. Army provides legal training to Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers

By Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Brandenburg, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

A U.S. Army national security law attorney conducted Defense Institute of International Legal Studies training with Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers in an effort to enhance their legal expertise April 4, 2024, in Tunmon Guam.

Over three days, U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Lillard, a national security law attorney with the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, in collaboration with U.S. Air Force trainers, covered a wide range of topics crucial to the legal aspects of detainee operations, law of armed conflict, and legal considerations in conflict zones to four PNGDF officers re-introducing aircraft to their air wing.

“This (training) was part of a larger training program to help them conduct maritime domain operations,” said Lillard. “We give other nations legal training so that they can at least understand the laws and how we do things and enforce UCMJ (Uniformed Code of Military Justice) in the hope that they may adopt some of our practices and maybe even improve upon them.”

DIILS training falls under the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Institute for Security Governance and is intended to promote accountable resource allocation, build maritime legal expertise, and develop networks for regional coordination.

“I think it was received very well,” said Lillard. “It was a good opportunity for us to learn about the PNGDF as well and how they do things.”

The legal training Lillard provided was a companion to training the PNDGF received on aviation and maintenance, as they re-introduce air capabilities to their maritime and border security operations. The equipment they received through this training is valued at nearly $5 million.

“Through providing face-to-face legal education and training, the DIILS program is the DOD’s premiere security cooperation means for building legal capacity and leveraging global legal engagements,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Carter, 8th TSC's chief of national security law. “Possessing a common understanding of customarily international law greatly enhances our strategic partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific and provides a framework for dealing with challenging legal issues during complex operations.”

The collaboration between the United States and the PNGDF underscores the importance of international cooperation in building capacity and expertise in military forces around the world.

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