Thank you General Datuk (DAH-toe) Raja Mohamed Effandi bin Raja Mohamed Noor, Chief of Army. It’s a pleasure to be here in Port Dickinson for this important event. As the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, it is my honor to be here on behalf of the U.S. Department of State and the Office of the Global Peace Operations Initiative. This program, which is lead by the U.S. Department of State and supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, has helped train and equip more than 225,000 peacekeeping personnel worldwide, including many right here in Malaysia.
The United States is very honored to celebrate Malaysia’s significant achievement as the first Global Peace Operations Initiative partner country to reach Full Training Capability. What this means, what this ceremony today celebrates, is that Malaysia is the first of our partner nations to become fully self-sufficient in training their military peacekeepers to deploy to UN peace operations. That is indeed an accomplishment to celebrate.
Malaysia has a long history as a valued partner in global peace and security operations. The first Malaysian deployment began in 1960 in the present day Democratic Republic of the Congo. Malaysia’s contributions have since expanded, with over 900 Malaysian troops currently deployed on missions around the world. Malaysian peacekeepers are serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo along with Lebanon, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara. We in the United States are grateful for the thousands of Malaysians who have served on over 13 different United Nations peacekeeping missions in the past. Most importantly, we must also recognize, and never forget, the 29 Malaysian peacekeepers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, the United Nations, and the world pursuing international peace and security.
I would like to express the United States’ particular appreciation for Malaysia’s service and sacrifice alongside U.S. forces in Somalia. Twenty years ago last October, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down over Mogadishu, leaving U.S. service members trapped in hostile territory. Malaysian forces helped rescue the American troops. Nine Malaysians were injured. One lost his life. Their bravery is an inspiration to each of us here today.
Malaysia’s deployment to Afghanistan, although not strictly a peacekeeping mission, was very successful in helping the Afghan people recover and rebuild from years of violence by providing medical assistance and access to clean drinking water. The United States was proud to work with Malaysia in support of that mission.
I would also like recognize Malaysia’s effectiveness, superior conduct and professionalism in United Nations peace operations. Your high-quality peacekeepers reflect the training caliber at the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. This training center demonstrates Malaysia’s role as a provider of peacekeepers, a training supplier, and an important regional partner.
Malaysia has consistently committed to building Southeast Asia’s capacity to deploy on peace operations. Malaysia provides instructors to regional training courses organized by the United States Pacific Command. The Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre here at Port Dickson also hosts a number of international events relating to gender, protection of civilians, civil-military coordination and child protection. Training courses in these areas make a critical contribution to international peace operations and build effectiveness of United Nations peacekeepers from other troop contributing countries. The United States has been pleased to stand with Malaysia in these efforts.
The United States applauds Malaysia’s innovative approach to building regional capacity by incorporating other regional partners’ peacekeeping forces with their own units, as Malaysia has done with Brunei. We encourage continued national investment in these “attached unit” opportunities that enable other countries to contribute troops to international peacekeeping missions and foster regional collaboration.
We also commend your efforts to integrate women into the peacekeeping deployment cycle. Malaysian women are part of the battalion in Lebanon and one of the Malaysian female peacekeepers serves as an expert on mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Female peacekeepers play an important role by improving access and support for local women, and helping to reduce conflict and confrontation. We encourage Malaysia to continue its efforts in this regard.
We are proud that the United States has contributed more than $3 million to Malaysia’s success in obtaining self-sufficient capabilities in peace operations training. The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Malaysia in their future contributions to international peace operations. Achieving full training capability is not the end of the partnership between our two countries; it simply marks the creation of a new framework for our partnership, which we look forward to jointly developing.
Through our new partnership framework, the United States will continue to work with Malaysia in other areas of defense cooperation. We look forward to every opportunity to discuss not only our continued cooperation on international peace operations, but other areas of defense cooperation of mutual interest to our two nations.
In closing, I would like to again give our congratulations Malaysia for its significant achievement as the first Global Peace Operations Initiative partner country to reach full training capability. The United States applauds Malaysia’s enduring leadership in peace operations and looks forward to continuing our defense cooperation partnership with the Government of Malaysia. Thank you very much.