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16-11

The expansion of the TDS

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Editor,

I beg for Taasi Holiday’s patience while I ask a few more questions.

Major Lieutenant Col. Fakalolo stated in an article at tonga-now.to that the TDS (Tonga Defense Service) would be growing to 1500 personnel. The tonga-broadcasting.com also had a recent article about the TDS receiving weapons and ammunition from the US Army.

Why does Tonga need such a large military?

Samoa, who has nearly twice the population and is comparable in GDP to Tonga, has no military, only a police force.

Fiji, whose population is 9 times that of Tonga and whose per capita GDP is three times that of Tonga, has only 3500 military personnel (including reserves). Per capita that means that Tonga…’s military is 3.4 times larger than Fiji…’s.

The United States, who is currently engaged in the Global War On Terrorism, with a population of 300 million and a per capita GDP twenty times that of Tonga, would have to add 50% more troops to have the same per capita ratio.

These are not toy soldiers, they cost money to house, feed and equip. I guess the Tongan Treasury must be running over with money, with an extra $2M loan here, and an extra thousand soldiers there.

Might such a large military be used to suppress the people and their desire for reform and democracy?

Could the funds be better spent on more important issues?

Could the USA have offered a more needed aid package that would have helped the people of Tonga rather than the possible suppression of democracy?

And Taasi, I have some recommended reading, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

‘Ofa atu

Joe Smith

utahpalangi [at] msn [dot] com