Remarks by U.S Ambassador Daniel L. Foote
Zambia Battalion V Cocktail Reception
U.S. Defense Attaché’s Residence, Lusaka, Zambia
March 22, 2019
(as prepared for delivery)
Good evening. Minister of Defense Chama; Army Commander, Lieutenant General Sikazwe; Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Muma; senior officers and warrant officers from the Defense Ministry; Army, Air Force, Nanking Peace Mission Training Center staff; men and women of ZAMBATT Five; members of the U.S., British, and French training teams. It is an honor to have you with us this evening.
Tonight, we recognize the fifth Zambia Battalion, or ZAMBATT Five, as the unit continues preparing for its deployment to the Central African Republic as part of the United Nations MINUSCA peacekeeping mission. We also recognize contributions of the Nanking Peace Mission Training Center cadre and our Allied training teams.
Today marks the end of the sixth week of ZAMBATT Five pre-deployment training. Last year during my first visit to Nanking, I gained an appreciation for just how realistic the field training is when simulated ex-Séléka rebels accosted my motorcade as we entered the camp. The more realistic the training conditions are, the better prepared ZAMBATT Five for its deployment in June.
Members of the fifth battalion know they have big shoes to fill. ZAMBATT Four, the current battalion in the field, received the following praise from Lieutenant General Keita, the MINUSCA Force Commander:
I commend ZAMBATT for planning and conducting praise-worthy Civil-Military Cooperation activities, and express my gratitude to Zambian authorities for their generous support … I would like to urge upon all contingents to continue the same upholding of the MINUSCA mandate.
The United States is proud to have played a key part in training all previous ZAMBATTs for MINUSCA, beginning with the first battalion in 2015. Some of you will recall that U.S. assisted training for the first three ZAMBATTs worked to ensure the battalions possessed the skills and materiel necessary to deploy to a peacekeeping operation in an austere environment. For the fourth ZAMBATT, the United States joined our Allied British and French training partners not only to continue direct training to peacekeepers, but also to begin shifting our assistance to the Nanking Peace Mission Training Center (PMTC) training cadre.
The United States continues assisting the PMTC with the construction of seven barracks, leveraging U.S. funding for materials and Zambia Army construction expertise and labor. We look forward to the conclusion of this project in the coming months. Completion of the barracks project may lead to follow-on U.S.-funded infrastructure at Nanking, assistance that can help the Zambia Defense Force fulfill its ambition to turn Nanking into a regional peacekeeping Center of Excellence.
As training for ZAMBATT Five nears its conclusion next month, the United States is already planning assistance for ZAMBATT Six. Building on previous institutional support to Colonel Changala and his PMTC team, next year we will focus on mentoring PMTC cadre with contract personnel in the specific areas at the request of the Zambia Defense Force.
As the United States shifts its future peacekeeping support in Zambia to capacity building efforts, we understand our British and French colleagues intend to continue providing direct training assistance to Zambian peacekeepers. I want to recognize the critical contributions made to the PMTC and ZAMBATT Five by the British and French teams, whose efforts strengthened the overall support provided to Zambia.
This year, instructors from the Canadian and Nepali Defense Forces provided valuable contributions in gender and UN logistics to ZAMBATT Five training. This reminds me of the African proverb: “If you wish to go fast, go alone. But if you wish to go far, go together.”
In closing, I would be remiss not to mention the exemplary job Lieutenant Colonel Tembo has done in preparing his battalion for its upcoming deployment to the Central African Republic. I have no doubt that by the end of the rigorous training program, you will be well prepared to relieve ZAMBATT Four.
Thank you all for attending this reception in honor of ZAMBATT Five. I look forward to furthering our defense partnership as we work together to enable Zambia’s continued commitment to contributing capable and highly respected forces to UN and other regional peacekeeping missions.