Kalouniwai To Act As UNDOF Commander
The new chief of staff for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai, will act as Force Commander (FC) when he arrives in the Golan Heights.
While this has come as a surprise, Colonel Kalouniwai said in Suva yesterday it was an honour and he was ready for it.
He said he had been called in quickly by the Deputy Force Commander, Brigadier-General Tony Hanlon, to act as Force Commander because he (Hanlon) would be away.
The outgoing Force Commander, Lieutenant-General Iqbal Singh Singha, and his replacement from Nepal, are in New York for the handing over.
Colonel Kalouniwai said his acting appointment demonstrated how important the role of chief of staff was.
“In the absence of both the FC and Deputy FC I’ll take over. This is a very important responsibility.”
“I don’t really know how long will I act as Force Commander. By the time I arrive I don’t know whether the Force Commader and the Deputy Force Commander will be there. In their absence I’ll act as FC.”
Colonel Kalouniwai said his permanent appointment was a military one and he would take care of the military responsibilities within the headquarters of UNDOF.
He said it was a very important role because it required him to free the FC from all the operational activities and concentrate on his planning for the future of UNDOF.
The chief of staff of any army, he said, had a very critical responsibility because he chaired the planning committee and looked after all the contingencies.
He said he suspected that the Deputy FC would leave when he arrived.
Colonel Kalouniwai leaves tomorrow and arrives on January 17.
“The UNDOF chief of staff post is very important to the succession plan of the RFMF,” he said.
He said he was given two options – to be chief of staff UNDOF or to attend the West Point College, the top military college in the United States.
The RFMF Commander, he said, had told him to take up the UNDOF chief of staff post.
He said the third top UNDOF post would be filled by Fiji for two years and if he was told to come back, another RFMF senior officer would take over.
While in office, Colonel Kalouniwai, said he would still be in RFMF uniform but with a blue beret.
He will fly first to Beirut where he will meet with the UN liasion officers with the Political Affairs officer from Syria.
From Beirut, he will go straight to Damascus where he will meet with the senior Sryian authorities. That will be his induction.
After that, he will move from Damascus to Jordan and to Israel and will arrive at the UNDOF Headquarters on January 17.