We have seen a dramatic growth in global demand for soldiers, police officers, and diplomats to serve on international peacekeeping missions needed to stabilize some of the world's most challenging hotspots. The United States is helping to meet that need through the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), an effort that has made significant progress toward addressing this demand by working with our international partners to deliver the tools and training peacekeepers require for these critical missions.
In a recent visit to Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, I had a chance to see how GPOI has supported our Asia-Pacific partners in their efforts to train and develop a new generation of leaders for the increasingly complex peacekeeping missions of tomorrow. The United States has long been the world's top financial contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, providing on average more than one quarter of the international organization's budget to support more than 100,000 "blue berets," military, police, and civilians working to secure the peace and protect at-risk populations in 16 peacekeeping missions around the world. In 2005, GPOI was launched to expand U.S. support for peacekeeping by providing training, equipment, and other support to 59 partner countries and regional organizations.
I began my trip in Japan, where my team took part in a graduation ceremony of the GPOI's Senior Mission Leaders Course in Tokyo. The Senior Mission Leaders Course is a collaborative multinational effort to increase the number of leaders available for future missions, and one component of a larger effort in growing peacekeeping partner countries' capacity and capabilities. The ultimate goal is to help our partners create their own self-sustaining peacekeeping capabilities, so that they can join in international efforts to help fragile states recover from conflict and rebuild.
GPOI co-sponsors this course with the Government of Japan, working through the Center for Civilian-Military Relations at the Naval Postgraduate School. Also in attendance at the graduation was the Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces Japan, Marine Brigadier General William B. Crowe, Deputy Director-General from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Masafumi Ishii, and representatives from U.S. Pacific Command.
The 23 students attending this intensive two weeks of training hailed from nine countries across the wider Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Thailand. They benefited from the vast cumulative experience of the course's senior mentors and instructors who boasted varied backgrounds as senior military, law enforcement, and civilian leaders in past and current peacekeeping missions. The senior mentors shared their own experiences with students and helped run exercises that included problem solving in challenging scenarios.
My next stop was the Philippines, which is one of our most enduring partners in the Asia-Pacific region on security and peacekeeping issues. The Philippines has a long history of peacekeeping, with contributions to UN missions going back to the 1950s. In recent years, it has increased its commitment to UN peace support operations and is presently in the top 30 of contributing countries with almost 900 deployed peacekeepers. Current commitments include significant police and troop deployments to Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, and Timor L'este, with smaller military observer deployments to Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire and on the India-Pakistan border.
The Philippines became a GPOI partner in 2007, and State continues to work with them to provide training, communications equipment, and upgrades to their peace support operations training center at Camp O'Donnell. As I met with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I congratulated them on their achievements and encouraged them to continue progressing toward their goal of having one percent of their 115,000 active military deployed on peacekeeping missions. A previous graduate of the first Senior Mission Leaders course from 2009, Major General Natalio C. Encarma of the Philippines was chosen to be the Force Commander for the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission in the Golan Heights.
Indonesia is one of the top 20 countries in the world in providing peacekeepers and has committed to doubling this number in the coming years. GPOI is actively supporting this effort by working with the government of Indonesia to establish the Peacekeeping Training Center at Sentul, Indonesia. This training facility is well along the way to initial operational capability and once completed will be able to house and train about 1,500 peacekeepers.
Over time, we can be sure that the number of peacekeeping operations will only increase and become more multi-faceted. For example, today, peacekeepers help post-conflict nations to implement the strategy of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration, and they also are committed to protecting civilians. Peacekeepers must implement comprehensive UN strategies as they work to bring lasting peace to war-torn areas such as Darfur, Sudan. We will need leaders capable of handling these increasingly complex missions, and GPOI is ensuring they receive the training they need.
It is in all of our interests to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping, and I am proud of how State and the Department of Defense are working together to make it happen. Through initiatives such as GPOI building peacekeeping partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, increased diplomatic efforts to mediate conflicts, and U.S. engagement at the UN to further strengthen peacekeeping capabilities and standards, the United States is ready now more than ever to do its part to promote peace.