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Military drill on peacekeeping starts

The ongoing event marks the fourth iteration of the Nepal-hosted Exercise Shanti Prayas, with the inaugural exercise conducted in 2000. Subsequent editions occurred in 2013 and 2017

Military drill on peacekeeping starts

The international peacekeeping exercise started on Tuesday with the initiation of ‘Exercise Shanti Prayas-IV.’ The exercise is taking place at the Birendra Peace Operation Training Center (BPOTC) in Panchkhal, Kavre district, and will continue until March 4. The inaugural session was held at the Nepal Army headquarters on Tuesday.

This exercise is a collaborative undertaking between the Nepali Army and the United States government’s Global Peace Operation Initiative (GPOI). The GPOI focuses on promoting excellence in the proficiency of peacekeeping forces, improving mutual coordination capabilities, and ensuring interoperability among Troops Contributing Countries (TCCs) to the United Nations.

The ongoing event marks the fourth iteration of the Nepal-hosted Exercise Shanti Prayas, with the inaugural exercise conducted in 2000. Subsequent editions occurred in 2013 and 2017. This year’s exercise features the participation of military personnel from 19 nations, including Nepal.

The primary objective of this exercise is to enhance the skills and interoperability among troops from countries contributing to United Nations peacekeeping missions, according to the Nepali Army.

A total of 1,125 participants will engage in various events, including 689 individuals in Field Training Events (FTE), 110 in Staff Training Events (STE) and 326 in Critical Enabler and Capability Enhancement (2CE) activities. “The exercise aims not only to address challenges encountered in peacekeeping efforts but also to increase awareness among participating nations about the challenges,” the Army said.

During the opening ceremony of the exercise, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal highlighted that Nepal’s engagement in UN peace operations has consistently been a crucial component of its foreign policy, aimed at achieving and strengthening global peace and stability, garnering commendation from the global community.

Expressing immense pride, he emphasized Nepal’s current status as the leading contributor of troops and police personnel to United Nations Peacekeeping missions. “Nepal has further pledged to deploy up to ten thousand well-trained and equipped personnel for UN Peace operations on request of the United Nations,” he said.

Affirming Nepal’s unwavering advocacy for peace and equality in international forums, the Prime Minister stated that these commitments are deeply rooted in the country's pursuit of global peace and harmony. “This is further manifested through our participation in the UN peace operations, where our peacekeepers have distinctly demonstrated bravery, compassion, and selflessness in their noble mission to protect and restore hope in regions torn apart by conflict.”

In the current global landscape, peacekeepers confront heightened and diverse threats arising from the complex and multi-layered nature of conflicts, driven by factors such as ethnic tensions and terrorism. Dahal stressed the imperative to adapt to this evolving scenario, as peacekeeping operations have transformed into complex politico-military-humanitarian efforts. This transformation necessitates a greater understanding and preparedness on the part of peacekeepers. He emphasized the crucial need to reassess how peace is delivered in the face of new and complex challenges to maintain the trust and legitimacy of UN Peacekeeping.

He also said that the multinational exercise emphasizes and reminds us of the necessity to continually train, refine strategies, and build strong partnerships among nations for the successful conduct of peacekeeping operations.

The Chief of Army Staff Prabhuram Sharma, while speaking at the program said that the exercise will be fruitful in promoting mutual relations and professionalism among the peacekeepers when working to establish peace in various conflict areas of the world in accordance with the mandate of the UN.

DAS Rachel Schiller, deputy assistant secretary for Programs and Operations, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said, “The United States remains deeply committed to the success of UN peacekeeping, which is why we are not only the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, but we are also the largest bilateral capacity building partner globally through the Global Peace Operations Initiative through which we have committed over $1.5bn since 2005, to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare, deploy and sustain peacekeepers in UN and regional peacekeeping missions.”

Flag Display, Fly Past, Band Display and cultural programs of the participating countries were presented in the event. Soldiers from Bangladesh, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uruguay, United States of America, Australia, Canada, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam are participating in the exercise.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayankaji Shrestha, Chief Secretary Baikunth Aryal, former Commanders-in-Chief, secretaries of various ministries, Ambassadors, Commissioners, Chiefs of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force and military aides among others were present in the inaugural event.

Nepal became a member of the United Nations in 1955 and since 1958, Nepal has been actively engaged in the broader spectrum of UN Peace Operations. Over the course of over sic and half decade, Nepal has participated in 44 UN peacekeeping missions and during this period, 167,000 Nepali peacekeepers have contributed to these missions and among them, the NA personnel number 149,890.