March 27, 2013
U.S. Pacific Command’s deputy commander Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant joined officials from the Nepalese army and the United Nations to kick off the Shanti Prayas 2 peacekeeping exercise at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Center in Panchkal.
The exercise, the second to be hosted by Nepal, is sponsored by the United States to train the Nepal army and Global Peace Operations Initiative partner nation militaries for U.N. peacekeeping missions. Representatives of 23 nations are participating in this year’s exercise.
Conant, expressing pride for his service as a U.N. peacekeeper in Somalia in 1994, challenged the group to take advantage of the opportunity to “learn and practice and latest in peacekeeping skills in a realistic environment, as well as to learn from each nation’s participants.”
As they increase their peacekeeping skills and ability to operate together, participants will strengthen multinational cooperation while contributing to regional peacekeeping capability, he said.
“This exercise will be no different, as participants prepare for important international missions that require the highest peacekeeping skill levels and use the latest U.N. doctrine,” he said.
Noting Nepal’s contributions to international peacekeeping, Nepalese Army Chief Gen. Gaurav SJB Rana emphasized the importance of sharing experiences, best practices and lessons learned to prepare participants for the challenges of peacekeeping missions.
Shanti Prayas 2 includes a senior training seminar, staff exercise and field training exercise.
Eleven platoons from 11 nations participating in the FTX are working to enhance their tactical training, organizational tactics, techniques and procedures. Senior leaders from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the United States are attending the four-day senior training seminar, which concludes today.
In addition, 84 officers from 24 nations participating in the staff exercise are focused on improving their operations, logistics and planning capabilities and U.N. civil-military coordination.
Conant and his Nepalese hosts laid a wreath on a Peacekeepers Memorial to honor those killed in the line of duty promoting international peace.
The U.S. State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative was established in 2004 to build partner-nation capabilities in peace support operations. The goal, Conant explained, is to increase the pool of military troops and police units trained and available for deployment and to provide the required preparation, logistical and deployment support they may require.
Within six years of its inception, the program trained and equipped 75,000 peacekeepers worldwide, primarily in Africa. The focus now has shifted to the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, Conant said.
More about Lieutenant General Thomas L. Conant, USMC,Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command:
Lieutenant General Conant's General Officer staff tours have included Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Department of Aviation, HQMC; Assistant Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, HQMC; and Director, Capabilities Development Directorate, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5), U.S. Pacific Command.
He has participated in various operations overseas to include: noncombatant evacuation operations in Liberia (Operation Sharp Edge), contingency operations in Haiti (Operation Support Democracy) and peacekeeping operations in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope and UNOSOM) and combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
He is a graduate of the USMC Amphibious Warfare School, USMC Command and Staff College, and Marine Corps War College.