Remarks by Ambassador Virginia Palmer at the Graduation of MALBAT 9

Remarks by Ambassador Virginia Palmer

Graduation of Malawi Peacekeeping Battalion Nine

 (MALBAT 9)
Machinga Hills Training Ground

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 10:30am

 

  • Malawi Defense Force Commander, General Griffin Supuni Phiri;
  • British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett;
  • Commander of British Peace Support – South Africa, Colonel Sasha Tomes;
  • Commander, 1/32nd Cavalry Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Springer;
  • Command Sergeant Major, 1/32nd Cavalry Squadron, Command Sergeant Major Ronald Newman;
  • Soldiers from 1/32nd Cavalry Squadron, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division;
  • Our British military partners;
  • Officers and soldiers of MALBAT 9;
  • Members of the press;
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Before I address the soldiers of MALBAT 9 – our real guests of honor, I’d like to thank the American and U.K trainers for their commitment to Malawi and this training.  Your efforts will ensure that MALBAT 9 will perform at the highest level and the skills you’ve shared will enrich the MDF for years to come.  I encourage you to share your experiences gained during your time in Malawi with our soldiers so that we can incorporate the best practices of the MDF into our own practices.

Soldiers of MALBAT 9, I take great pleasure in congratulating you for the hard work and dedication which brought us here today to celebrate your training graduation.  The skills that you’ve developed will serve you well in the critical mission on which you are about to embark.

And, today we not only celebrate the completion of your training, but we also recognize a milestone achievement for the Malawi Defense Force, the ability to train its own peacekeeping troops.  This rare accomplishment certifies the MDF as one of the few militaries in Africa able to train soldiers for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations without the need for foreign training assistance.

For the past ten years, U.S. military trainers have come to Malawi to ensure Malawian troops were fully prepared for their peacekeeping duties.  While we expect that U.S.-provided MALBAT training will continue, it will support MDF efforts and target specialized, high-demand skills, such as driver training and advanced marksmanship.

Since 1994, the MDF successfully has carried out peacekeeping missions in Rwanda, Sudan, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and since 2013, the DRC.  In each case, the MDF helped secure civilian populations and create the conditions for peace.

The purpose of peacekeeping missions is as simple as the name indicates, but difficult in practice for those participating in the training, deployment, sustainment, and daily operations necessary to provide lasting peace and security in the most fragile regions of the world.  And the MDF has surmounted all these challenges.

Previous MALBAT deployments have provided important lessons on how to do things right.  MDF peacekeepers have zero/zero incidence of crimes against civilians, a record all too rare.  You MALBAT 9 soldiers are now tasked with maintaining this positive narrative which puts Malawi in an elite category on the world stage.

U.S. Military leaders have often praised the MDF for its professionalism and discipline.  At a recent security conference at our War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. Army Africa Commander Major General Joseph Harrington highlighted to participants from throughout Africa and the United States the success of the Malawian Sergeant Major academy.

Your deployment will not come without some sacrifice.  You will be far from home, away from your families, and close to danger.  I know we all remember Staff Sergeant Dyson Mayao, who in November 2015 paid the ultimate price, when Malbat 7 bravely rescued a Tanzanian peacekeeper and repulsed a rebel attack.

The risks inherent in military service are what make the armed forces such a unique profession.  You are called to make tough choices in difficult situations which could mean life or death.  The training that you’ve received over these past several weeks coupled with your years of service will allow you to make the right decisions when the time comes.

The U.S. military partnership with Malawi reflects our shared values, a joint dedication to safeguarding civilian populations, and a common commitment to the highest standards of professionalism.  I look forward to seeing that partnership strengthen and mature through activities such as this one and upcoming, continent-wide events we are co-hosting with the MDF, the African Land Forces Summit and African Endeavor

If I may, General Phiri, present you with this certificate and congratulate the MDF for achieving Full Training Capability status……………….

Let me just conclude once again by offering my sincere congratulations to the graduates of MALBAT 9 training and end with Matthew 5:9:  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

 Zikomo kwambiri.