THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) continues to be the largest force that can intervene in conflicts to ensure law and order Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Major General Matela Matobakele has said.
Maj Gen Matobakele said this during the official opening of a two weeks Peace Support Operation training this week at Makoanyane Barracks.
The training which is being facilitated by experts from France will see 141 soldiers from the rank of private to major (company commander) being trained on peace keeping initiatives.
Also present at the opening was also the Honorary Consul of France in Lesotho Remi Beghin and other LDF staff.
Soldiers from departments such as the Military Police, Military Hospital, Air Wing, Military Intelligence, Transport, Training Wing, Engineering and Peace Keeping Company while the 17-member French army team is led by Captain Jenque Hard.
Maj Gen Matobakele said different regions across the world are longing for lasting peace and it is prudent for soldiers always be prepared to provide and safeguard peace for the wellbeing of the people.
He said the Peace Support Operation training prepares the officers to be confident peacekeepers.
“Attempts are being made to establish a safe international security environment by creation of common training and it is apparent that the international community must avoid conflicts on a global scale,” Maj Gen Matobakele said.
“A demand for peacekeeping operations increases from year to year as an effect of the growing number of conflicts. Moreover, one can observe changes in the nature of contemporary conflicts which demands new structure of peace keeping operations.”
He said while the emerging nature of conflict may not necessarily require military interventions due to the low potential of conventional wars, the demand for secure peace is still significant.
“That’s why an important element of security policy has become conflict prevention and rapid response to threats before they take the form of armed struggles.
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“Although nowadays one can observe increased involvement of civil institutions in providing peace, the military remains the largest and fastest force that can intervene on short notice to separate warring parties and ensure law and order.
“Therefore, it is extremely important to prepare such peacekeeping forces, which jointly and coherently will perform tasks undertaken at any point across the globe.
“If such forces should function properly, it should be able to cork competently, know common procedures, equipment and they should be trained together.
“This is especially important for you trainees to be engaged in such training today. Joint cooperation and understanding are therefore a basic element which can be achieved through joint training.”
Maj Gen Matobakele described the French as real friends who assist whenever the need arises.
“The French are some of our few best friends. The best friend is one who comes to assist when the need arises. The friend for making peace is a true friend…peacemakers are known to be sons of God. We do not have enough words to thank you for always being there for us,” Maj Gen Matobakele concluded.
For his part, Mr Beghin said the training comes following the LDF’s request to France for a follow up training from the one which was held in 2011. He said the training should equip LDF members to become competent peacekeepers in Africa.
“We are happy to be doing this training once again this year since it comes after LDF’s request a few months ago as a refresher course for the other training that was held in 2011.
“France has always been requested to help Africa in peacekeeping missions but we believe that African countries are only ones who can solve their own problems. We strongly believe that African problems need African solutions and we believe you are part of the solution.
“You (trainees) as members of the LDF, Lesotho as member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU), we hope after this training, you will all be ready to bring peace to the African continent,” Mr Beghin said.