During her July 17 keynote address at the opening ceremony of the second annual U.S.-India UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-II), India Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Ruchi Ghanashyam emphasized that today’s security challenges are much more complex and dangerous than in the past. She noted that UN peacekeeping missions include political, military, and human rights aspects which have caused us to ask more of our peacekeepers. They are expected to de-escalate tensions, prevent fresh outbreak of conflict, and protect civilians. This level of complexity makes comprehensive training imperative. “Our experience over the last half century teaches us that the critical component between ‘Mission success’ and ‘Mission failure,’ is almost always the quality of men and women who serve under the UN flag,” she said.
Peacekeepers play a vital role in providing stability and preventing outbreaks of violence in 16 peacekeeping operations around the world. The United States and India have a long history of supporting international peacekeeping efforts. The U.S. is the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and India is one of the largest contributors of peacekeepers, with over 50 years of experience as a Troop and Police Contributing Country (T/PCC) to UN missions around the world. The three-week course, which was conducted from July 17 to August 4 in New Delhi, was organized jointly by the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), a Department of State-led effort to train and equip partner countries for peacekeeping missions, and the Indian Army’s Center for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK). The goal of UNPCAP-II is to enhance the capacity of African contributors to UN peacekeeping operations through a ‘train-the-trainer’ program that will allow graduates of the course to return home to train future peacekeepers from their own countries. All of the course participants have prior peacekeeping experience to help facilitate the seminar-style format of the course and encourage the exchange of ideas and experiences by both the instructors and participants. Military officers from 17 countries participated: Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. Three of the officers were sent from the Commission of the African Union as representatives of the African Union.
Additionally, the United States sent three Army officers to UNPCAP-II to serve as instructors, who worked side-by-side with their Indian counterparts. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Hahn, Major Bobby Fields, and Captain Andrew Madden have all previously been assigned to UN missions in Africa as part of their extensive military careers. Lieutenant Colonel Hahn previously served as the Deputy Chief of Operations Force Military Information Officer with the UN in Liberia, Major Fields served as the Future Operations Planner to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, and Captain Madden served as a Military Observer with the UN in Liberia.
UNPCAP-II is part of a growing partnership between the United States, India, and African peacekeeping institutions to broaden the bench of contributing countries for peacekeeping operations. Seeking to better integrate military, police, and civilian personnel, this year’s class roster included three non-military peacekeepers from Senegal. By increasing the number of people, countries, and multidimensional capabilities since the inaugural course in 2016, we are helping to improve the overall quality of those operations. The joint U.S.-India peacekeeping course underpins the commitment of the two countries to collaborate on peacekeeping issues and improve lives across the globe. MaryKay Carlson, Charge d'Affaires in the U.S. Embassy, said the designation of India as a 'Major Defense Partner' of the United States further underscores the importance of the two nations as net security providers in the global arena. GPOI has helped facilitate the synchronization of efforts with India’s CUNPK to assist African partners in enhancing their self-sufficient peacekeeping capabilities and, as such, continues building a cooperative relationship with India in this area.
GPOI represents an important global investment by the United States to strengthen the capabilities of other countries seeking to step up to the challenge of peacekeeping. GPOI’s 53 active partner countries work to meet the growing global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel, develop key capabilities essential to mission success, like airlift and medical units, facilitate peacekeeping deployments, and increase the role of women in peacekeeping. Through endeavors such as UNPCAP-II, the U.S. and India are working to meet the growing global demand for well-trained peacekeepers capable of responding to evolving mission requirements and advancing the cause of peace and security.
About the author: Kelly Reese is a student at Texas A&M University, who served as a summer intern in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.