Growing up in the small country town of Wingham, on the NSW mid north coast, Major Scott Atkinson could not have imagined he would become a quasi-local in Papua New Guinea.
CAPTION: Major Scott Atkinson on-site during Exercise Puk Puk at Goldie River Training Depot in Papua New Guinea. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo bySergeant Nunu Campos.
As the contingent commander of Exercise Puk Puk 2022, that’s exactly what has happened.
“Exercise Puk Puk has been really good, actually. We got on the ground and the team is really excited,” Major Atkinson said.
“I love working with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). I love their dedication to get after problems and get the job done, showing all things that demonstrate intuition to problem-solve.”
This year, engineers from the PNGDF, Australian Army and British Army are working together to increase bonds, build relationships and develop trade skills while improving existing infrastructure at the Goldie River Training Depot near Port Moresby.
The depot serves as the home of recruit training for the PNGDF and is also home to some PNGDF engineers.
Major Atkinson, from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, is very familiar with the PNGDF.
“Since 2012, I went through the Royal Military College with multiple PNGDF peers and partners, who I also did my Regimental Officer Basic Course with in Sydney,” he said.
“I was then very fortunate in 2014 to head to Wewak to do my first Exercise Puk Puk and then do another one in 2015.
“Since then, I have been in and out working on PNG activities every year bar one.”
The former Wingham Tigers Rugby League and Wingham Hornet Rugby Union player believes his upbringing in a small country town was a bonus for his Army career.
“Wingham is known for its great people, its rodeo, and rugby league. It’s a great little country town,” he said.
“I think it’s the same thing as being in the Army; it’s growing up with what you’ve got, and find a way to get after a problem.”