With nearly 60 years of peacekeeping experience, Nepal is a world leader in international peacekeeping. The United States and Nepal recently brought together over 30 countries to train a new generation of peacekeepers, with support from the United States Government’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).
The Government of Nepal and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) co-hosted the multinational peacekeeping exercise Shanti Prayas III (“Peace Endeavor”) at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre (BPOTC) in Panchkhal, Nepal, from March 20 to April 3. In all, 68 U.S. and 540 Nepalese Army personnel participated in the exercise, along with 460 personnel from 32 other nations.
Participants conducted platoon-level field and situational training exercises, including how to cordon and search a peaceful village for militants, safely clear improvised explosive device to ensure villagers have safe access to their fields and sources of water, and how to provide emergency medical care. These are considered crucial skills for conducting peacekeeping operations in modern, complex environments that often combine famines and natural disasters with militant and terrorist activity. Participants also ran concurrent table-top staff-level training exercises and Critical Enabler Capabilities Enhancement courses to work through real world scenarios and solve logistical problems drawn from recent peacekeeping missions.
In his remarks at the exercise’s opening ceremony, PACOM Commander Admiral Harry Harris, Jr. observed, “Partnerships play a critical role in meeting global challenges, from maintaining peace to providing humanitarian assistance after natural disasters. This kind of multinational training can deepen mutual understanding and respect and encourage further collaboration if we’re doing it right and we’re committed to this mission...and I know that we are.” Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz added that peacekeeping supports regional stability, and thereby can set the conditions where democracy and prosperity can flourish.
GPOI, which has provided funds to support multinational exercises like Shanti Prayas III, is a U.S. Government security assistance program managed by the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs that works to strengthen international capacity and capabilities to take part in United Nations (UN) and regional peace operations. GPOI currently has 53 active partnerships around the world, approximately one-third of which have achieved full training capability, which indicates the ability to conduct core military peacekeeping training independently. This means that for a modest initial U.S. investment, those we train can train others, giving additional GPOI partners a chance to help us meet the growing demand for trained peacekeeping personnel.
Recognizing the disproportionate impact of conflict on women as well as the important role that women play in peace operations, increasing the ranks of women in international peacekeeping is also a priority for GPOI. Shanti Prayas III highlights the crucial role played by women peacekeepers. Nepal has more women peacekeepers deployed on UN peacekeeping missions than any other Asian nation. In fact, the Nepalese platoons in Shanti Prayas III are made up of 50 percent women. Over the last five years, GPOI’s partner nations have increased their deployment of female military peacekeepers by 62 percent, as compared to a 24 percent decrease among non-GPOI partners.
Now, more than ever, there is a growing global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel. International stability requires peace operations, and peace operations require well-trained, effective peacekeepers. GPOI provides the capacity building support to help countries around the world contribute to the establishment of international peace and security.
About the Author: Andrew Strike serves in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs' Office of Congressional and Public Affairs.
Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.
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