Thailand and Australia host regional peacekeeping exercise



Thailand and Australia co-hosted a regional peacekeeping exercise involving over 100 participants from 22 Indo-Pacific countries last week at the coastal city of Bangsaen to better prepare them for the challenges they may face as part of United Nations peacekeeping missions.

The two countries launched the bilateral exercises in 1998 exclusively between their militaries, but participation has expanded to include nearly two-dozen countries and now involve police personnel, civil society groups and other civilians.  This year’s exercises come as Thailand is stressing its strong record in United Nations peacekeeping missions as it campaigns for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the 2017-18 term. Thailand has participated in more than 20 such missions.

Known as Pirap Jabiru, the names of a Thai bird and an Australian bird, the exercises “provide for regional peace operations cooperation and networking, and contributes to regional security,” according to Australia’s Department of Defense.

“Thailand is a very important security partner for Australia. We share similar approaches to regional security and a history of cooperation, including in recent operations in Timor-Leste, the Gulf of Aden and operations in Sudan and South Sudan,” said Major General Simone Wilkie, commander of the Australian Defense College, who is in Thailand to open PIRAP JABIRU 2016.

She said the exercise is a great opportunity to bring together representatives from 22 Indo-Pacific militaries, police forces, and non-governmental organizations to learn about issues confronting peacekeepers and to identify strategies to meet future challenges.

“The true value of the PIRAP JABIRU series is that it enables participants to develop a much deeper understanding of contemporary multi-dimensional U.N. missions and most importantly how we can work together to achieve optimal results,” Gen. Wilkie said.

Gen. Wilkie added that there was no scaling back on the size or scope of the exercises because of political developments in Thailand, as the two countries have a long history of peacekeeping cooperation.

Thailand was the lead country in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste upon the country’s independence less than 20 years ago.

Participants will be tested by realistic scenario-based problems that reflect contemporary U.N. operations including how to protect vulnerable populations, such as women and children.

Trainers will also impart greater understanding of peacekeepers’ rights and obligations under international and domestic law and how to maintain logistics support in environments that are often difficult. “Participants will work together to develop comprehensive approaches to these problems,” Gen. Wilkie said.

Participating countries include Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Jordan, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

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