Wednesday, 17 December 2014

South Paciffic: New Zealand Defence renews ties with the RFMF

Defence ties between Fiji and New Zealand are back on track. 
This is after today’s landmark visit by New Zealand’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee to the Fiji Military Forces headquarters. 

For the RFMF, the visit also strengthens the ties between the two countries after a lapse of eight years. 

A quarter guard signifying mending eight years of  broken relationship. 
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces and New Zealand’s Defence Ministry now coming to terms of forging a new and stronger partnership. 

“We appreciate that New Zealand have come back to re-engage with Fiji after the last eight years. 
These last eight years have not been easy especially for the RFMF. 
It was well documented the New Zealand political masters at that time went out of their way even to stop the RFMF’s participation in UN Peace Keeping missions. 

That was how deteriorating our relations were at that time,” said RFMF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho. The closed door meeting, looking at ways how both parties can help each other in terms of  security. 

“We are starting all over again. Like I said before we have made new friends in the last eight years and we will not just forget about these new friends we have established defense ties with. 

We will continue with that and we will work on what New Zealand has to offer us in terms of training and professional enhancement of the RFMF,” Qiliho added. A major pact the RFMF is looking at,  is training. 

“Traditionally, the New Zealand defense force have been our trainers and the first commanders of the RFMF were from the New Zealand defense force and during the our participation in the wars in the Solomon Islands we had New Zealand officers as part of the Fiji battalions and commandos that went into action as part of the bigger US forces in the area at that time,” Qiliho said. 

New Zealand has been an important security partner not only for Fiji but the region as a whole, particularly protecting the island nations sea resources. 

Meanwhile, the Fiji military has continued to make waves around the world with its achievements on international security. This after the appointment of  Land Force Commander Colonel Jone Kalouniwai to take up a senior position with UNDOF in the Golan Heights. Colonel Kalouniwai’s new appointment will see him oversee the military side of missions in regards to operations and administration in the middle east. 

Colonel Kalouniwai now joins other senior officers who have held international senior officer positions abroad. Lieutenant Colonel Qiliho says, a new Land Force Commander will be named by RFMF Commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga soon.