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Saviours of the Mission

Saturday, August 16, 2014, marked a special day in United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) history as the tunes of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Brass band echoed through
21 Aug 2014 19:34
Saviours of the Mission

Saturday, August 16, 2014, marked a special day in United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) history as the tunes of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Brass band echoed through Camp Faouar Parade Square in the Golan Heights.

For the first time, live regimental music accompanied the marching on of Fiji battalion troops with their Regimental 1st Fiji Infantry Regiment (1FIR) colours, heralding the first change of command for the Fiji Battalion in UNDOF. The UNDOF Force Commander and Head of Mission, Lieutenant-General Iqbal Singh Singha officiated the sombre hand-over between the outgoing Commanding Officer (CO),

Saviours of the Mission

Saviours of the Mission

Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho and the incoming CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Isoa Loanakadavu.

 

A three-part ceremony followed. This involved the handing over of the Fiji battalion colours, the handing over of Bibles between in the incoming and outgoing COs and the presentation of a whale’s tooth, signifying the three bastions of Fijian society – Government, vanua and the church. The solemn occasion involved the respective handing over of the Regimental Sergeant Major’s Pace Stick between the incoming and outgoing RSMs.

Lt-General Singha, in commending Lt-Col Sitiveni Qiliho for his sound leadership remarked, “I take this opportunity to congratulate the Commanding Officer 1FIR Lt-Col Sitiveni Qiliho for his dedication to duty and leadership qualities that has led to the successful tenure of his battalion.

“I thank him for his positivity and wholehearted support of the mission in a much matured manner.”

Lt-General Singha went on to welcome Lt-Col Loanakadavu saying that he was confident that the second rotation would undoubtedly live up to the high standards set by their predecessors, and will continue to keep the UNDOF flag flying high.

He said the Fiji Contingent’s first rotation took over from the Philippine and Indian Log Battalions on July 28, 2013, at a critical time when things were ‘not so good’ in the mission area.

Rightfully, the FC added that such was a time when he found it appropriate for him to call the Fijian Contingent as the “saviours of the mission.

The UNDOF mission was rumoured to close down in 2013 after high threats were encountered and a sensitive situations developing. However, during this fragile period, the Fiji Government approved the deployment of the 1st Battalion and the arrival of troops into the UNDOF mission area in record time had a very positive impact on the international scene, the host nation, as well as in the peacekeeping arena. The immediate occupation of 15 UN positions and an additional Observation post was the maximum any Battalion had ever achieved since the inception of UNDOF 40 years ago.

These activities created another page in UN history, as highlighted by Lt-Gen Singha. He acknowledged Fiji’s timely contribution to the mission at a time when several other contingents were leaving the mission area for security reasons and domestic political compulsions.

In his farewell remarks, Lt-Col Qiliho thanked the outgoing troops for their dedication and commitment to the service of peace during the most volatile period ever experienced by UNDOF. Their steadfast approach to the call of national duty to the Golan Heights at that time was beyond reproach and that they should return home proud of what they had achieved in the last 12 months. He wished the incoming Fiji troops well under the leadership of Lt-Col Loanakadavu.

Lt Col Qiliho reiterated his farewell speech to the Fijian troops with a famous Bible verse from the Gospel of St Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” whilst equally acknowledging his utmost appreciation to the sound leadership and unwavering guidance of Lt-Gen Iqbal Singh Singha.

RFMF Media Cell

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