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US Works with RFMF on Developments

US Works with RFMF on Developments
US Defense Attaché Commander Constantine Panayiotou at St John’s College in Cawaki, Ovalau, beside the building that was damaged by Tropical Cylone Keni. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua
May 23
11:00 2018

 

United States Embassy defence attache Commander Constantine Panayiotou said they are working with the Director of Peace Support Operations Lieutenant-Colonel Pacolo Luveni on developments at the Black Rock Camp in Votualevu, Nadi.

He said they are going to refurbish a multipurpose training facility.

“We have about US$1.7 million (FJ$3.50 million) worth of equipment coming in for Black Rock Camp and that will be the generators, construction equipment, forklifts to help the camp get going,” he said.

Commander Panayiotou said USA would also invest US$4 million (FJ$8.24 million) in a level-two deployable field hospital.

“That will start flowing in later this year and it will come in stages,” he said.

“We will first assemble at Black Rock and we will do an exercise with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces 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.

“It is really going to be a force multiplier for them to be able to bring that kind of capability to their peace support operations.”

Commander Panayiotou said the Australians were also involved with the Black Rock development, building a warehouse facility.

“I think it’s important to note that what we are doing this year is a kind of coincidence,” Commander Panayiotou said.

“It coincides with a very important year for Fiji, which is the 40th anniversary of their peace support operations.

“Back in 1978, after President Jimmy Carter worked on the peace deal between the Europeans and Israel on Lebanon, the Fijians were the first ones in to do the peace support operations there and they have been there ever since.”

He said something that he had been impressed by since he got to Fiji was not only hearing the stories from Fijians in the RFMF, but also from his colleagues around the world that the Fijians have been on peacekeeping operations for 40 years.

“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,” Commander Panayiotou said.

“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.”

Commander Panayiotou added that they had made it a priority to step up side-by-side and support the Fijians with their training in preparing them for the Peace Support Operations.

“Their reputation precedes them and the capability that they bring in peace keeping and we want to support that,” he said.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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