A successful peacekeeping operation does not just require military skills that involve use of firearms, but a multifaceted undertaking that also include police and a combination of other humanitarian actors.
That is why Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) in partnership with the United States Military, European Union and the East African Community, together with other partners, organised a two-week exercise aimed at imparting peacekeeping skills to officers from 13 countries from across the world.
The exercise, that ended on Tuesday, was held at Rwanda Military Academy-Gako in Bugesera District, and was codenamed Shared Accord 2018.
It brought together over 200 participants from Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Germany, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, the Netherlands, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, United States and Zambia as well asthe international organisations, the United Nations (UN), and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Participants underwent academic and practical courses required in peacekeeping operations.
Besides, participants were engaged in over 100 simulation exercises through which they acquired practical skills to prepare them to be more effective whenever they are assigned to maintain peace in worn-torn regions.
Speaking at the closing of the exercise, Lieutenant General Jacques Musemakweli, the RDF Chief of Staff, said that no single country can stand alone against terror and other conflicts.
“I am confident that this exercise will enrich your capacity to plan, implement and evaluate your future tasks as protectors of civilians in Peace Support Operations,” said Musemakweli.
“The responsibility to protect civilians lies at the heart of modern peacekeeping and the complexity of field situations requires that different peacekeeping actors embrace cooperation, coordination and consensus and work in an integrated manner,” he said.
According to Peter Vrooman, the US Ambassador to Rwanda, the Shared Accord exercise was an opportunity for all participants to learn from each other and to acquire skills needed to keep the peace.
“I think military officers learn a lot about challenges in peace keeping environments where it is very difficult to restore authority, and protect civilians, we learn a lot in participating and sharing some of our best practices as military in terms of planning and training and that is what we brought to the table,” said the envoy.
Participants speak out
“We gained a lot and I think we can now do better on the ground in any UN peacekeeping missions, we always have to keep in mind that protecting civilians is the main reason we are in such missions,” said Captain Lausanne Nsengimana, one of participants from Rwanda.
Maj. Ketty Chikwekwe, from Zambia Army Force, said the training was an amazing platform to acquire new skills.