U.S.-India Joint Training Further Strengthens Peacekeeping Missions in Africa

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U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Juster and Secretary Ruchi Ghanashyam, of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs meet with African officers attending UNPCAP III and the Indian and U.S. course instructors. ( U.S. Embassy New Delhi photo)
U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Juster and Secretary Ruchi Ghanashyam, of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs meet with African officers attending UNPCAP III and the Indian and U.S. course instructors. ( U.S. Embassy New Delhi photo)

U.S.-India Joint Training Further Strengthens Peacekeeping Missions in Africa

On Monday, May 7, U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster gave remarks at the opening ceremony for the third annual UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-III), a joint U.S.-India initiative to build and enhance the capacity of African troop and police-contributing countries to participate in UN and regional peacekeeping operations. He was joined by India’s Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Ruchi Ghanashyam. UNPCAP-III is taking place in New Delhi, India, from May 7-25. 

This iteration of the UNPCAP course will train 37 peacekeepers from 17 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia) at the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) in New Delhi.

Course participants attend a briefing as part of UNPCAP III. (U.S. Embassy New Delhi photo)

The training is conducted jointly by U.S. and Indian instructors using a ‘train the trainers’ model, so that course graduates can return home to train future peacekeepers in their own countries. All course participants have prior peacekeeping experience to help facilitate the seminar-style format of the course and encourage the exchange of ideas and experiences between both the instructors and participants.

UNPCAP-III is the first iteration of the course to include simultaneous interpretation in French, and over 50 percent of participants are from Francophone countries. The course includes UN pre-deployment training modules on operational and logistical planning, humanitarian operations, the code of conduct on sexual exploitation and abuse, the protection of women, children, and other vulnerable civilian populations, and various blackboard and table top exercises. The course also emphasizes a growing push to institutionalize a culture of performance – teaching commanders to evaluate the performance of units under their command. Two African officers who are alumni from UNPCAP-II, the prior iteration of the course, will also be part of the team of instructors.

Ambassador Juster gives remarks at the UNPCAP III opening ceremony. (U.S. Embassy New Delhi photo)

During the opening ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Juster’s remarks highlighted both India’s historic contribution to UN peacekeeping missions – over 180,000 Indian troops and police have served in 49 of 69 UN peacekeeping missions, many in Africa – and the importance of our current cooperation with India and our African partners through programs such as UNPCAP-III. The Ambassador recognized the growing challenges faced by today’s peacekeepers. Two-thirds of all UN peacekeeping operations are now in active conflict zones – the highest percentage ever. He also noted that meeting the challenges of so-called ‘failed states’ and the extremist elements that fill the vacuum created by instability requires troops and police to perform at the highest levels of operational effectiveness. And this, in turn, requires that the international community build strong and capable peacekeeping forces.

The Ambassador underscored the importance of training courses such as UNPCAP-III, which are an important way for troop-contributing countries to work together to share best practices among peacekeepers and trainers. Experienced trainers can help instill a culture of performance that is geared toward effectiveness in missions and strong leadership. The participation of both police and military officers in UNPCAP-III reinforces the importance of exchanging ideas and sharing experiences among different mission components to enhance their effectiveness. Ambassador Juster also thanked the 18 African countries in attendance and the significant contributions they have made to the eight peacekeeping missions that are currently underway in Africa.

Ambassador Juster with the three U.S. instructors and two students from UNPCAP III. (U.S. Embassy New Delhi photo)

The United States is the largest financial contributor and capacity building provider to UN peacekeeping operations. The Department of State’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau manages the two primary U.S. security assistance programs focused on building international peacekeeping capacity: the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP). Both programs are implemented in close partnership with the Department of Defense.

GPOI funding supports the UNPCAP series of courses and represents an important global investment by the United States to strengthen the capabilities of countries that contribute to peacekeeping. GPOI’s 53 active partner countries help to meet the growing global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel, including more female peacekeepers. GPOI partner countries have increased the number of military personnel deploying to UN and African Union (AU) peace operations by 165 percent since becoming partners, and they also have increased the number of female military peacekeepers deployed to UN peace operations by 66 percent since 2010. 

Through endeavors such as UNPCAP-III, the United States, India, and African nations are all working together 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: Andrew Strike is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.