The visiting Commander of the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM), Gen William Ward, yesterday hailed the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) for their astounding services to African people especially in peacekeeping missions.
Ward who is in the country for a two-day visit said that the RDF has proven to be a professional force which puts the interests of the people first, pledging even further partnership to have the force attain the highest level of professionalism.
“I want to tell you that a few moments ago, I had a discussion with some of the officers who have been on the peacekeeping mission in Darfur,” Ward told members of the press at Gabiro School of Infantry in the Eastern Province.
“From the experiences we shared, I must say am very impressed, and I am sure that the Rwandan army has been transformed into a very professional force.”
Shortly before his trip to the academy, Gen. Ward had held discussions with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen James Kabarebe, talks that aimed at strengthening bilateral military cooperation, especially in supporting the peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
The American General shortly after exchanging gifts with Kabarebe, interacted with senior army officers who have served in Darfur since 2004 and thanked the officers for their gallant service in one of the most volatile regions in the world.
“I would like to congratulate you for the job well done; I and the rest of the world appreciate the fact that you sacrificed yourselves to work in Darfur under violent conditions. This shows how the RDF force is committed to serve the people in a very professional manner,” Ward told the officers.
Kabarebe affirmed RDF commitment to support the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Darfur as well as the will by the RDF to continue supporting humanitarian efforts in Darfur where hundreds of thousands have been killed and a million others displaced by the conflict.
“We are not just in Darfur for the sake of it. We are there for a purpose; that is to create peace and offer humanitarian services. These officers you see here have given the mission so much and some of their colleagues have lost their lives,” Kabarebe told the American General.
“We want to commit our support to you so that you can continue doing your work in Darfur better and in a more effective manner,” said the Commander of USAFRICOM which has assisted RDF/UNAMID to airlift equipment to the Western Sudan region.
He inspected a guard of honour at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters before he proceeded to Gabiro where he was briefed about RDF training before he took a tour around the vast academy that trains infantry, Armour, Artillery and Engineering officers.
Ward who was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Rwanda, Stuart Symington, watched a Firing Range Demonstration by RDF officers before he proceeded to visit the RDF Marine Regiment in Gisenyi on the shores of Lake Kivu.
He was taken around RDF Marine Unit which the Americans support and there after he visited the Gas Methane Plant on Lake Kivu which is run by Contour Global, an American company.
Accompanied by the CDS and the American Ambassador, Ward said that the US will continue supporting the marine unit with training and maritime equipment in order to beef up its capacity to deal with emergencies.
Maj. Theodomile Bahizi, the Deputy Commander of the Marine Unit which operates on L. Kivu on the border between Rwanda and DRC, has been vital in countering security threats and curbing narcotics trade and smuggling.