News: Malaysian peacekeeper shares experiences at Exercise Shanti Prayas-2
Lt. Theresa Donnelly, U.S. Pacific Command Public Affairs
KATHMANDU, Nepal - Malaysian Army officer shares his experiences running peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Mindanao, and Lebanon, while participating in Exercise Shanti Prayas-2 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Col. Hisham Badrul, of the Malaysian Army, drew upon his extensive experience running peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Mindanao, and Lebanon, while participating in Exercise Shanti Prayas-2, at the Nepal Army headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal, March 27.
Badrul reflected on life’s most difficult challenges and lessons learned.
"Some difficulties I faced [as a United Nations peacekeeping contingent commander] were how to harmonize units and the lessons we learned to engage with the civilian community and local leaders early-on in the peacekeeping operation," he said.
Badrul joined officers from 23 nations for a staff exercise designed to refine skills required by military officers who operate in United Nations headquarters during peacekeeping operations across the world.
The staff exercise is a two-week, multinational engagement, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Global Peace Operations Initiative and hosted by the Nepal Army. The goals and objectives of the exercise are to increase participants' interoperability with partner nations and build peacekeeping skills to prepare for future United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Badrul emphasized the secret to successful peacekeeping operations is how vital it is for U.N. peacekeeping teams to work side-by-side with the civilian community.
"Our host-nations must collaborate with us, and we have to work together to meet the objective of peace," said Badrul. "We must be sensitive to the local culture, as this is such an important part of the mission, and we must be humble enough to listen to what the people need."
During Badrul's last tour in Lebanon as a U.N. contingent commander, local leaders were invited for tea on the first day they were there, to help build trust with the local community and to explain the purpose of the team's peacekeeping mission.
“I think this was very important because we were operating in their compound; a very secluded area,” he said. “This meeting helped set the stage for our tour and helped build their confidence in our ability to bring peace."
As one example, Badrul explained that they used Armored Personnel Carriers for transport and had to operate carefully while near homes of the local populace. Knowing the terrain and where the local community built their homes ensured they were mindful of the inhabitants and could prevent accidents when conducting missions.
Not only are there challenges when interacting with the local population, but U.N. peacekeeping contingent commanders have to learn how to take charge of other nations' military personnel, some of which handle operations differently and whose tactics and procedures are unlike those of the nation of the force commander.
"My role is almost that of a 'mini-ambassador.' All of the countries come from such different backgrounds and many times different services. As you can imagine, everyone has their own opinion and perspective," he said.
Badrul pointed out the importance of the contingent commander being available for the troops, "You must be humble; speak to everyone. As a commander, you must be with your people and 'walk the line' with them," he said.
Now that Badrul is the commandant of his country's peacekeeping training center, the Malaysian Mission Peacekeeping Center. He says he can take the lessons he's learned serving as a peacekeeper and the ideas shared during the Shanti Prayas-2 exercise back to Malaysia and use that information to train future peacekeepers.
"The seminar is a very good platform to interact, not only with other commanders but the lectures and through this engagement, we share knowledge and network with one another," said Badrul. "This way, in missions, we can complement each other to better prepare our officers for peacekeeping operations."