News: Asia-Pacific military peacekeeping leaders convene for peacekeeping training exercise
By Lt. Theresa Donnelly
U.S. Pacific Command Public Affairs
KATHMANDU, Nepal - More than 30 senior military officers from 10 nations gathered to address the challenges of modern United Nations peacekeeping operations at a senior training seminar during Exercise Shanti Prayas-2 at the Nepal Army headquarters, March 23-26.
The exercise is a Nepal-hosted and U.S.-sponsored multinational training event conducted as part of the U.S. State Department's Global Peace Operations Initiative. The goals and objectives of the training are to increase participants' interoperability and peacekeeping skills prior to deployment to U.N. missions.
Participants for the senior training seminar include officers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
Lt. Gen. Netra Bahadur Thapa, Chief of Staff of the Nepalese Army, emphasized in his opening remarks the challenges faced by peacekeepers and the need for training to better prepare soldiers for these complex operations.
"U.N. peacekeepers are facing very complex challenges and are often required to implement intricate mandates. Protection of civilians, [preventing] sex and gender based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, and human securities are all matters of grave concern for the U.N.,” said Thapa.
Some of the factors affecting the planning of peacekeeping operations include understanding the culture of the local population, the often vast areas covered by small numbers of peacekeepers, the complexity of multinational military operations and coordination with the police and humanitarian components of peacekeeping missions, dealing with transnational crime, violations of human rights and the need to provide timely and accurate information.
In his presentation, retired India Army Lt. Gen. Randhir Kumar Mehta, a former military adviser to the United Nations secretary general, gave an overview of the history of peacekeeping operations, a description of the various U.N. peacekeeping mandates, an explanation of the overall U.N. command structure, and many suggestions for ways to improve operational performance and mission success.
Mehta emphasized how teams should work to build political unity among peacekeeping nations and all parts of the mission for the protection of civilians. Some of the duties troops encounter while conducting peacekeeping operations include how to effectively prevent conflict related sexual violence and restoring security in nations rife with conflict.
Mehta also advised leaders to take a gender neutral approach when training forces for peacekeeping operations.
“Let's recognize each other as the same in stamina as long as they are given the same opportunities. We must empower men and woman equally. There are no differences in terms of their ability. We have to give everyone equal opportunity,” said Mehta.
The seminar offered multiple opportunities for open discussion and ways to share best practices for training peacekeepers. In the question-and-answer sessions, many expressed their nations' innovative approaches to training peacekeepers such as the integration of training involving the military, government civilians, humanitarian organizations and police.
Exercise Shanti Prayas-2 aims to train peacekeepers at all levels of peace operations involving tactical operations such as convey escort, safeguarding and humanitarian distribution site, and patrolling skills in the field training portion of the exercise.
“A great responsibility is on the peacekeeping training centers to impart realistic and quality training to the peacekeepers so that they can understand and implement the mission's mandate with the mission partners on the ground,” said Thapa.