Tonga military holds recruitment drive
Tonga military is conducting its annual recruitment drive with another 70 to 80 personnel to be added to His Majesty's Armed Forces by the end of the week.
Tonga's Armed Forces is busily sifting through around 300 applications in its annual recruitment drive, with decisions to be made at the end of this week.
Radio Tonga reports that about 40 percent of the applications are from women.
Lieutenant Colonel Lord Ve'ehala is in charge of recruitment for His Majesty's Armed Forces and Don Wiseman asked him if they were after school leavers or older people.
LORD VE'EHALA: Normally for recruiting it's just school leavers mainly. We've brought up our school qualification for form five, or year ten, that's the minimum. And between age 18 and 25, that's what we normally do each time we do a normal recruiting.
DON WISEMAN: In a typical year you're looking for how many people?
LV: It depends, sometimes maybe 80 to 100 to maintain the current strength of the defence force.
DW: In the New Zealand Defence Force very often people are attracted by the prospect of learning trades, can you do that in Tongan armed forces?
LV: Yes we can do that, we do training here. I mean we brought training over here locally, it's done by a lot of civilian institutions here, and also the opportunity to train with the New Zealand Defence Force, or the Americans, the British, or Australia. So there are opportunities for training not only locally but overseas.
DW: Your normal ceiling is about 700 but you only have 500 at the moment. You're recruiting about 80, so you're still going to be down aren't you, is that a concern?
LV: We're not just recruiting for one financial year, each financial year we're recruiting. The people only work for three years and if they want to leave the service they can leave, So the vacancies there, we need to maintain that figure. Whatever the direction we've been given by the government that's what we're working on. And if we recruit 50 or 60 then that's what we have until the next recruit training. Some people are going to leave the defence force very soon, and then there are some people that want to stay and continue on so, it depends. Our numbers are up and down, up and down, each year. It's never been a ceiling, it's the same as any other defence force around the world.
DW: What impact has the deployment to Afghanistan had on the military?
LV: It's to do with training, it's to improve our capabilities, same with other defence forces. It's the same with New Zealand, the same with Australia, same with the United States, it doesn't matter the size of the defence force we do the same process all the time.
DW: But what impact has it had on attitudes of people within the armed services and the ones who want to sign up?
LV: Well, people want to sign up. We brought up recruitment training and over 300 people signed up to the defence force. It just shows the attitude of the people are pleased, they want to serve, they want to volunteer and serve the defence force. So that's where the attitude is.
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