India has 2,547 out of 19,402 peacekeeping personnel in UNMISS (United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan). India’s Lt. Gen. Shailesh Tinaikar is also taking up his role as Force Commander (overall in-charge of military operations) at the end of June. SNI has covered both Indian battalions in the country in video reports with a series on INDBATT II, the 7 Garhwal Rifles and more coming up on INDBATT I, the 11 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Battalion.
SNI Photo: CO INDBATT-II’s Office, Bor
deo Journalist Prateek Suri spoke to Colonel S G Thomas, the Commanding Officer, INDBATT-II (7 Garhwal Rifles Battalion Group) UNMISS in Bor. When asked about his experience and his battalion’s tenure, which ends this month, he said, “The Indian Army, being one of the most professional in the world, is seen in very high regard in UN circles.” On the key takeaways, Col Thomas added, “The UN has given his unit an insight into operating in a multinational environment, an understanding of the country’s cultural diversity and a nuanced approach to diplomacy and and negotiations skills.” Acknowledging that international bonds and relationships would continue he said, “Whenever our teams come from India, we not only have a legacy to protect but we also have to look at forwarding it. “The 7 Garhwal Rifles is being replaced with the 20th Jammu and Kashmir Rifles Battalion after its year-long tenure.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir also acknowledged the Indian battalion’s roles. In an exclusive interview to SNI in the capital Juba, he said, “The areas they are there now are the areas that need the most presence for peace. And especially Akobo-because Akobo is a very isolated town and especially during this war nobody is there. But, it’s become a displaced camp because when the relief food was being taken to Akobo that managed to gather the people. But, now it’s time for people to go back to their original homes so that they settle.