United for Peace: Strengthening Peacekeeping Together
25 August 2023
Confident. That’s the word that best describes Chief Private Ryan Herdhika, as he skilfully operates heavy equipment in Bangui, the Central African Republic, more than 10,000 kilometers away from his home near Jakarta, Indonesia. What fuels this self-assurance? It's the knowledge and expertise he gained through a training conducted by Japanese soldiers last year.
Chief Private Herdhika is a member of the Indonesian battalion deployed to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Prior to that, Chief Private Herdhika and 19 others completed their training under the UN’s Triangular Partnership Programme (TPP) to help build and repair infrastructure, including supply routes and campgrounds, and support national recovery efforts following any natural disasters that may hit the mission area. The role of military engineers in MINUSCA is instrumental in achieving Mission’s mandates, particularly protection of civilians by rebuilding and maintaining roads to ensure mobility of troops.
“Being able to operate heavy equipment well is only one part of this course. There is a lot of other knowledge that I gained, such as being more disciplined in maintaining heavy equipment, paying more attention to procedures in work and safety management,” he said.
Building on the success of last year’s course, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) returned to the Indonesian Armed Forces Peacekeeping Center, Sentul, Indonesia last month, to teach future trainers and equipment instructors. In the spirit of international cooperation, soldiers from Cambodia and Mongolia also attended the training.
The Heavy Engineering Equipment Operators’ Training of Trainers is designed to prepare and equip military personnel to become trainers in their home countries' armed forces. This three-month course is set to improve three types of skills: heavy equipment operation skills, teaching methodology and construction project management.
“Peacekeeping missions operate in diverse and dynamic environments, each with its unique challenges,” said Lieutenant Colonel Takemoto Kensuke, who heads the training contingent from Japan. “By mastering these three skills, peacekeepers become more adaptable and versatile in handling a variety of tasks, from operating heavy equipment during patrols to teaching local communities critical skills and managing reconstruction efforts.”
Captain Engga Permadi, a participant from East Java, Indonesia shared what he learned from the course: “Not only do we learn to operate mechanical and heavy equipment such as excavators, loaders, graders, or bulldozers, but we also gain knowledge and experience in teaching methods. With this, we can pass on this knowledge to our units in many countries.”
Lieutenant Colonel Vanna Neng from Cambodia expects to train around 300 future peacekeepers in his country’s armed forces. “But of course, the people who are benefitting most from this training are the people who live in the mission area,” he said. “This is especially so in the Central African Republic, since there is a lot of damage on the roads, making it hard to move.”
Building Global Peace Needs Global Solutions
Indonesia has a long history of participating in peacekeeping operations and has been actively involved in providing troops and personnel for various UN missions around the world. As the eighth largest contributor to global peacekeeping operations already, Indonesia is looking to get even more involved, which is why the army volunteered to host the training, said Rear Admiral Retiono, Commandant of the Indonesian Armed Forces Peacekeeping Center. “This training is benefitting our personnel, to learn from those who are experienced in operating heavy equipment and machinery,” he said. “I hope that the course in Indonesia will continue next year.”
Currently, Indonesia has over 2,700 UN peacekeepers deployed to regions in need. Among these, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) are two that require heavy equipment operations. Since 2022, Indonesia has sent more than 350 peacekeepers to these missions, and there is a continued demand for additional peacekeepers with expertise in operating heavy equipment.
The UN Triangular Partnership Programme was created to enhance peacekeepers' capabilities and provide comprehensive training and capacity-building. This programme brings together participants from multiple countries with a shared vision of achieving global peace through collaborative efforts.
“In the face of global dynamics and growing instability that our peacekeepers are facing, there is a continuing strong need for well-trained troops from all over the world,” said Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare, Head of the UN Department of Operational Support. “The true success of this training lies not only in enhancing the performance of global peace operations but also in nurturing the strong bonds of international cooperation, which are instrumental in achieving global harmony and lasting peace.”
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission