JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.63

SPECIAL FEATURE

SDF's Contribution to UNMISS
- The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan -

SDF's Contribution to UNMISS

Q :
What is the background for dispatch of the SDF to South Sudan?

Illust_UN

A :
At the time of the independence of South Sudan, UNMISS was established by the UN Security Council resolution 1996 adopted on July 8th, 2011, with the aim of assisting nation-building of the world’s youngest country.

In response to UN requests for cooperation in UNMISS, the MOD carried out on-site field surveys three times from September to October 2011 and finally dispatched staff officers and an engineer unit to UNMISS.

Q :
What kind of personnel has been dispatched to South Sudan?

A :
SDF staff officers and the engineer unit have been dispatched to South Sudan.

A total of four staff officers work in the UNMISS Headquarters in Juba. Two members (information officer and logistics officer) have been dispatched since November 2011. Later, one officer (engineering officer) was added in February 2012, followed by another one (air operation officer) in January 2015.

The engineer unit has been dispatched since January 2012 to engage in the construction of infrastructure such as roads and the site preparation. As of March 2015, approx. 350 personnel are stationed in South Sudan.

Q :
What specific activities does the SDF engineer unit engage in?

A :
On March 1st in 2012, the SDF engineer unit started its first engineer activity such as drainage construction within the UN sites. The unit started road improvement in Juba on April 2nd as its first engineer activities outside the UN facilities.

From June 2012, the engineer unit started cooperation with the international organizations. From October of that year, the unit began working with ODA projects that aim to support more sustainable and independent socioeconomic development of South Sudan. Through these cooperation, it is anticipated that the MOD/SDF will be able to engage in the PKOs more effectively, and thereby making further contributions to activities beneficial for local communities.

Since December 2013, political disorder has occurred within the country, creating a large number of internally displaced persons. Thus right after the clash the SDF provided assistance to the IDPs through activities such as IDP site preparation, reinforcement of UN facilities where they were evacuating and through medical service. Currently the SDF are continuing its contribution on protection of civilians activities through tasks such as road preparation and site preparation.

Japan-Australia Cooperation in South Sudan
- Interview with Australian Liaison Officers -

SDF's Contribution to UNMISS

Since August 2012, two of Liaison Officers (LO) from Australian Defence Force (ADF) have been dispatched to the SDF engineer unit in UNMISS. Their duties include supporting the unit in coordination with the U.N. and the government of South Sudan. Also, they have been contributing to enhance the Japan-Australian cooperation in African continent. The interview was carried out on Lt. Col. Ferguson and Cpl. Buckley, who have been working at the Joint Coordination Section within the SDF engineer unit since September, 2014.

Q :
Tell us about your current duties at the Japan engineer unit in UNMISS.

A :
Lt. Col. Ferguson :
My main role here is to provide the Japan engineer unit with insight into both ADF Operational Conduct and Australian Culture, as well as assist any way I can in ensuring the unit is successful in its mission in South Sudan. The reason behind my position being established is to form stronger bonds between Japan and Australia at the operational level, so that the two countries can work together in the future should there be a need to support humanitarian crises closer to the Australasian region. It is an honour to serve alongside such a professional Self Defence Force.

Cpl. Buckley :
I provide linguistic support to the engineer unit by translating and compiling documents, letters or speeches intended for an outside audience.

Q :
What do you think is the significance of your work?

A :
Lt. Col. Ferguson :
The most significant part of my job is communication. Making sure the engineer unit understand what UNMISS staff or local personnel are saying is critical to Japan contingent being able to perform at its best. Also making sure UNMISS, NGOs and local government officials understand what the engineer unit's requirements are, is very important, particularly in maintaining the excellent reputation that the unit has here in South Sudan.

Cpl. Buckley :
There are two levels to the work I do here. Australia and Japan have an ever deepening defence and security partnership, and this position is a symbol of this important partnership. In this sense, I have been mindful of the importance of improving the friendship between our two countries through my day-to-day work here in Juba.

The second level relates to the significance of my contribution to the actual mission. As an English speaking Japanese translator I am able to contribute by translating important material from Japanese to English. I also assist in English language instruction for a number of SDF personnel.

Q :
What was the highlight of your deployment?

A :
Lt. Col. Ferguson :
There are many highlights working with the members of the engineer unit. Helping the unit achieve success means I am doing my job, once I assisted them in the coordination of the Hai Gharbat area road maintenance task, and the task resulted in a great success. The other major highlight was being able to show my Australian colleagues here in Juba where I work and who I work with. They were very pleased to be able to visit the Japanese camp, and I was very proud to show them around the camp and displays.

Cpl. Buckley :
The highlight covers my entire time at Japan Contingent. Here I am able to observe and learn from a very professional force carrying out an important mission under very difficult circumstances.

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