Indian women security officers to train US counterparts

New Delhi: In a first, women officers of Indian security forces are soon expected to impart training lessons to their US counterparts in peacekeeping, marking recognition of their exceptional work in this field.

The officers, who commanded the world`s only all-women Formed Police Unit (FPU) in peacekeeping in Liberia, have been invited by the US to train its officers in such operations besides sharing their experiences in the troubled African country, sources told PTI here on Sunday.

The 100-member strong women contingent of Indian peacekeepers, drawn from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), has been deployed in Liberia since 2006 as part of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and has earned immense praise from the UN.

The US invitation to the women commanders was one of the several outcomes of the meeting of the Indo-US Joint Working Group (JWG) on Peacekeeping held here during which the two sides decided to establish institutionalised arrangements and collaborate on peacekeeping missions.

At the JWG meeting, the Indian side was led by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary (UN-Political) in the External Affairs Ministry, and the US delegation was headed by Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisations.

The two sides decided to intensify bilateral cooperation, consultation, and exchanges with a view to improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions.

They agreed to have close consultations on peacekeeping issues between their delegations in the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly, and other fora, wherever possible.

India and the US will also develop closer consultation and cooperation on the matching of UN peacekeeping mission mandates with capacity and on ensuring political support for the success of UN peacekeeping missions.

This is significant considering that India was emphasising that it should be consulted on the UN peacekeeping mandates which is decided by only the Permanent five members of the UNSC.

Sources said the US agreed to consult India and the first one in this regard could be the UN Mission in Sudan.

The US also agreed to work with India in seeking reform of administrative and enabling support mechanisms for UN peacekeeping missions, including remuneration for contingent owned equipment, peacekeepers and police units, according to the `Declaration of Principles`.

India, which is one of the topmost troop contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, wanted an upward revision of the reimbursements for personnel and equipment deployed as it is convinced that the present remuneration is not enough.

There are over 8,000 Indian security personnel working in various UN peacekeeping operations.

India and the US also decided to establish institutional arrangements between the Peacekeeping and Stability Operation Institute at the US Army War College and the Centre for UN Peacekeeping, New Delhi, and other institutions involved with UN peacekeeping training, for exchange of best practices, training opportunities and visits.

The two countries will also explore further the linkages between UN peacekeeping to peace-building, including consideration of policing and the rule of law and work together to support peacekeeping mission-wide strategies for the protection of civilians.

The JWG meeting also decided that the two countries would prepare civilian capacities with skills and experience relevant to peace-building.

India and the US agreed to collaborate on increasing the effectiveness and capability of the UN to source equipment, enabling units, and specialised requirement for UN peacekeeping missions.

They will also collaborate on training of UN peacekeepers with agreed principles to be worked out separately and explore collaboration on a potential high-level event to bring together supporters of UN peacekeeping.

The outcomes of the JWG meeting, which was held after two years in pursuance to the Joint Statement issued during President Barack Obama`s visit here in November last, will form part of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue to be held here next month.