Editors Note: As debate on the role of the Fiji military in the affairs of our nation intensifies, we have decided to reproduce excerpts of the highly controversial and secretive Defence White Paper whose contents Victor Lal had exposed shortly before the 2006 coup. Coupfourpointfive argues the Report was one of many factors which prompted the dictator to seize power and to plunder the nation.
The Defence White Paper Committee members recommended that the RFMF personnel should be slashed from the current 3,300 (in 2003) to 1600 to 1700. The cuts, except for the engineer regiment, should be made at Force headquarters, in the Infantry Force etc. The package of recommendations was designed to ensure that they provide no excuse for the RFMF to involve itself in domestic politics.
It did however very strongly recommend that the Fiji Police Force (FPF) must be reconstituted to assume full responsibility for maintaining law and internal security in the country rather than the military, which should have a secondary role of providing support to the police in times of crisis.
The DWP recommended that peacekeeping be the primary role of the RFMF, with a secondary role, to assist the FPF contains large-scale social unrest, terrorist incidents, search and rescue and other tasks when so authorised by the Minister. The DWP also called on the RFMF to freeze recruitment immediately.
The DWP was mindful of the potential backlash on its recommendations; for example, it might incite a revolt by the RFMF or elements of it, but was confident that the risk could be minimised by informing the RFMF of what was intended and the provision of adequate demobilisation arrangements.
As the likelihood reaction from Fijian extremists who saw the RFMF as the last bastion of Fijian rights, this risk could be minimised by a combination of public information and rapid intervention if violence erupted.
TO BE CONTINUED