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Editorial: Help For Our Peacekeeping Operations Most Welcome

Editorial: Help For Our Peacekeeping Operations Most Welcome
May 23
11:05 2018

This support is timely too. It comes at a time when the RFMF is set to celebrate 40 years of involvement in peacekeeping operations

News that the Americans have come to Fiji’s support in peacekeeping operations is most welcome as the Republic of Fiji Military Forces ramps up work on this aspect of its opera­tions.

United States Embassy defence attache Command­er Constantine Panayiotou said this week that the embassy, and by extension the United States, was working with the RFMF’s Director of Peace Support Operations Lieutenant-Colonel Pacolo Luveni on developments at the Black Rock Camp in Votualevu, Nadi.

He said the US was funding the refurbishment of a multi-purpose training facility with $3.50 million worth of equipment bound for Black Rock Camp.

The equipment includes generators, construction equipment and forklifts

As well, the USA is investing in a $F8.24m “level two” deployable field hospital with US troops sched­uled to run exercises with their RFMF counterparts to train them on how to use the field hospital and turn that into a deployable capability that can sup­port Fiji’s peacekeeping operations in the Middle East.

The Australian military has also stepped in to build a warehouse facility at the camp, which was set up with the purpose to train soldiers before they are de­ployed in peacekeeping missions overseas.

We say thank you to the USA and Australia for help­ing the RFMF with this force multiplier that brings a certain capability which helps peace support opera­tions.

This support is timely too.

It comes at a time when the RFMF is set to celebrate 40 years of involvement in peacekeeping operations.

It all started on September 17, 1978, after the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was set up.

As support was drummed up from all over the world to provide peacekeeping troops, into the breach stepped the 1st Battalion of the then Royal Fiji Mili­tary Forces led by then Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Epe­li Nailatikau, who later became our President.

The success of Fiji’s blue berets and the dividends Fiji reaped from that first engagement meant our sol­diers were later tapped to take on other peacekeeping roles wherever the United Nations tried to mediate in any crisis worldwide.

The RFMF has since sent troops to the former Rho­desia, the Sinai desert under the Multinational Force and Observers, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bougainville, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Iraq and with the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights.

Fiji has become well known in this field of work that it is often one of the first countries tapped to en­gage in a peacekeeping mission.

Our demeanour, our resolve and our ability to en­gage with parties in any conflict has meant that we’ve been always chosen for such dangerous work.

But US defence attaché Commander Panayiotou’s telling tribute to RFMF is probably the reason we have been able to do well in this work as a country and a military force.

He said: “In missions where other countries wouldn’t go, the Fijians went, in missions where the other countries left because it was too dangerous, the Fijians stayed. So the courage and bravery that I see in our Fijian colleagues here is very impressive and I think that any fighting man or woman will have great comfort knowing that there are Fijians along­side them because of their reputation. Their reputa­tion precedes them.”

LOSIRENE LACANIVALU

Feedback: losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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