US Joint Chief of Staff applauds MDF for its DRC peacekeeping contribution

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US Joint Chief of Staff applauds MDF for its DRC peacekeeping contribution
US Joint Chief of Staff applauds MDF for its DRC peacekeeping contribution

Africa-Press – Malawi. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces has applauded the professionalism displayed by the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in its contribution to peacekeeping, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A communique from the Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff made the sentiments through Vice Chairman Admiral Christopher Grady in an audience with MDF Commander, General Dr Paul Valentino Phiri — who was invited by the US Armed Forces for a courtesy call at the Pentagon in Virginia, United States last week, February 20.

The communique said Admiral Grady, who is the second highest-ranking military officer in the US Armed Forces, appreciated General Phiri’s leadership vision and philosophy and assured him of continued support from the US Armed Forces.

Admiral Grady underlined the need for upholding the rule of law, accountability, and civilian control of the military.

In his presentation at the Pentagon, General Phiri underscored the importance of the relationship between the two-armed forces and expressed his appreciation for the support Washington has been giving the MDF.

General Phiri laid out his vision of the MDF and how the United States can support the execution of this mission and among the issues that he presented that included the need to build the capacity and capability of the MDF in operationalisation of the quadri-service, and comprehensive disaster management as well as the establishment of early warning and early response systems.

He was accompanied on the Pentagon visit by Malawi’s Defence Advisor to Washington DC, Brigadier General Philip Prince Nyamali and his colleague Brigadier General George Warwick Phiri, who later met Chief of the United States National Guard, General Daniel Hokanson and the Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard, Major General Todd Hunt.

The communique further reported that two US Generals discussed matters of mutual interest between the MDF and the North Carolina National Guard, which has been partnered with the country in a State Partnership Programme (SPP) together with Zambia.

The SPP is a Department of Defence security cooperation initiative, managed and administered by the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, executed by the Global Combatant Commanders such as the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).

“The US Secretary of Defence is authorised through the SPP to support Washington’s security cooperation objectives between North Carolina and the MDF,” said the report.

“The partnership between Malawi and North Carolina is the most recent one and he two entities share common interests including maritime security and economic growth.”

North Carolina National Guard and the MDF will explore how the latter can contribute to agricultural development, which is the backbone of the country’s economy. The signing ceremony of the partnership will take place in April this year in Lilongwe.

In his 2023/2024 National Budget presentation in Parliament on Friday, Finance & Economic Affairs Minister Simplex Chithyola Banda highlighted some key achievements made in the agriculture sector that included establishment of mega farms.

Amongst them include 100-hectare Malawi Defence Force Gada farm and others are 80.2-hectare Chipoka cotton farm; 107-hectare Mlambe/Nkopola maize farm; 102-hectare Illovo Sugar and LUANAR maize farm and 300-hectare Malawi Prison Services farms.

Last September, the MDF — through Malawi National Service — made available about 7,459 bags of maize to government in a bid to help it achieve food security in the country.

At the handover ceremony at Gada Farm in Mchinji where the maize was produced, Board chairperson applauded the MDF for the good initiative in assisting the government in establishment of mega farms to ensure food security in the country.

In his remarks, Brigadier General, John Stanley Chikhulupiliro Chaika, Commander for Malawi National Service stated the national service is a development and productive service which is ready to serve the nation.

Meanwhile, the US trip was also a benchmarking exercise for the operationalisation of the country’s National Defence College (NDC), whose mission is to train strategic leaders and conduct research, analysis, and strategic gaming to support Malawi’s defence and security requirements and other allied nations including regional and sub-regional bodies.

The report said the NDC aims at training senior military and government officials drawn mainly from strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and will also be open to foreign course participants on the continent.

“The NDC training focus on a broader dimension of national and global security at a strategic level aimed at developing and improving the intellectual capacity of this target group.

“Without its own Defence College, Malawi has been sending senior officers abroad for strategic studies. The initiative of the Defence Force to establish its own college will save public funds and benefit senior military officers and government officials to pursue tailor-made courses locally.”

The report added that the NDC has taken a shallow end approach by starting with executive courses, symposia, and research and the flagship NDC course will be inaugurated after completion of the benchmarking exercise.

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