Ex Blue Flag: My Training Experience


 

Australian Defence Force Peace Operations Training Centre (ADF POTC) ran a United Nations Military Expert on Missions (UNMEoM) Course from 31 August to 25 September 2015. The aim of the course was to prepare selected military personnel from ADF and overseas service as a Military Expert on Mission on UN or multi-national peace operations. The course enables students to understand and practice the duties and responsibilities of a UN MEoM including practical skills required for field missions. The theory part of the course was conducted at RAAF Base Williamtown and culminated with a one week practical training called EX BLUE FLAG at ADF Majura Field Training Area, Canberra.

The course was attended by 35 officers from 20 countries. It also had 16 Directing Staffs (DS) from 9 different countries. Malaysia was represented by Lt Kol Normohamad Jilis from Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre (MPC) and Maj Gobalakrishna Govindasamy who is a seconded MAF officer at POTC as the DS and Maj Rafizin Kamaruddin as the student. Lt Kol Normohamad Jilis was also the TDO for the course.

POTC also hosted Kol Jamaluddin Jambi the Commandant of MPC and his staff Lt Comd Firdaus Arbain for a working visit to POTC from 17th to 21st September 2015. It was the first visit by Kol Jamaludin to POTC and gave him an insight on how things are run at POTC. The visit was also a good opportunity for the Commandant to see how the UNMEoM course is run at POTC since MPC will run its own UNMEoM course in November. Kol Jamaludin also visited the students during EX NIMMO which was a bull ring type of exercise before the final practical exercise, EX BLUE FLAG.

The objective of EX BLUE FLAG was to give a practical aspects to the theory training from RAAF Williamtown. The students conducted the core roles of a MEoM including observation, monitoring, investigation and verification, negotiation and mediation, liaison, first aid, hostage survival, coordination and reporting. They also have to use their military skills such as driving, communication and navigation. The exercise was conducted for four days with the students manning 3 Team Sites to replicate a real UN scenario. The students conduct vehicle and foot patrols during which they will encounter various situation where they have to use their theoretical part of training from RAAF Williamtown to handle the scenarios. The exercise was supported by staffs and role players from ADF units.

The exercise gave the students a practical insight on the complexity of working along members from different cultures and diversity. Language was the main barrier even though all of them speak English!!! The non Aussie students were straining their ears when the Aussies were speaking too fast especially in a tense situation whereas the Aussies were having a difficult time to understand the message passed thru the radio communications. Add a seriously angry farmer who is upset that his crops and animals were stolen by the rebels with the UN not doing anything to the situation and you have a real mission scenario.

Article was written by Major Gobalakrishna Govindasamy who is currently in Australia under the MAJDP program.