A church service was held today at the PNG Defense Force headquarters in Port Moresby’s Murray Barracks, to welcome home four soldiers who returned from a mission in Sudan, Africa.
The four soldiers were deployed under the United Nations Peace Keeping program.
One of them, Major Peter Ikau, was awarded with a Commendation by the Force Commander for his role in quelling a fight in Malakal, South Sudan.
The four soldiers were deployed as PNGDF United Nations Military Observers to Sudan in August last year.
Majors Qudrat Larawin and Steven Serum served at the UN African Union Mission in Dafur, Sudan.
Major Eddie Etato, who is away in Madang, and Major Peter Ikau served at the UN Mission in South Sudan.
They were responsible for planning, conducting, monitoring and reporting on operations and patrols, as well play the role of Military Liaison Officers.
Chief of Force Preparation, Colonel Siale Diro, says “this is the fourth that has just deployed and there are four in each rotation. So far, we’ve had 12 go through; we currently have four on the ground, two in Dafur and two in South Sudan.”
The four were able to participate in the Short and Long Duration Patrols.
Each of them received a UN Medal for performing to standard.
Major Ikau, who was awarded with the Commander’s Commendation, was able to intervene and control a fight between Sudan Refugees residing at South-Sudan, and the host community.
Three people were killed, and ten others wounded.
He was fortunate to go in as a Military Liaison Officer on the Ground with Rwanda’s Force Protection to safeguard the area.
“Knowing kind of results normally occurred there, we were able to quell it and there was no re-enforcement. Our army force was in Duba, they want to send re-enforcement in, but the action we took was able to save them from extra movement of additional troop,” says Major Ikau.
This marks the first time for any member of the PNGDF to receive such an award.
His two comrades, Majors Larawin and Serum also shared the same sentiment of their experiences.
“It’s similar to any organisation, army organisation, but it’s… the current size of the force is like the five Papua New Guinea Defense Force put together on the ground. It was a huge mission,” said Major Larawin.
Major Serum also said that “joint operation center in the UN, basically collects information and verify information…. Unlike in our military were they plan and deploy forces. But in there, we basically collect information and verify them.”
Brigadier General, Gilbert Toropo, who welcomed them, spoke highly of the four commending their high degree of professional competency and devotion to duty.
All the PNG UN Military Observers have been strongly recommended for future deployment into UN peace keeping operations.