Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kiwi to Command Fiji Soldiers in the Sinai

NZ Press Association - November 17 2009

A New Zealand soldier has been appointed to a top command post in the Sinai Peninsula, in the Middle East.

Brigadier Warren Whiting http://www.nzpaimages.co.nz/events.php?event_id=9223.become a major general and serve in the New Zealand uniform as military commander for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), although he would no longer be formally part of the New Zealand Army.

From March 2010 he will command about 1600 soldiers from 11 countries, including 26 from New Zealand, and 800 civilians.

The MFO was established as a peacekeeping and observation force in 1981 after the 1979 Treaty of Peace was signed between Egypt and Israel.

New Zealand has had soldiers in the MFO since its inception. It was not a United Nations organisation.

Brig Whiting would be based in the force camp in an old Israeli air force base in El Gorah, in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

The military force would patrol and monitor the borders and ensure the obligations of the treaty signed in 1979 were met by both sides.

The forces were armed but for defensive purposes only.

He said his appointment recognised New Zealand's peacekeeping roles around the world. "We are seen as being good at it,'' he said.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the appointment reflected New Zealand's global role as peacekeepers.

Brig Whiting will have Fijian soldiers under his command.

New Zealand is opposed to the present Fijian government, as it grabbed power in a coup and so was not democratically elected.

Fiji and New Zealand have expelled each other's diplomats and the relationship is at a low point.

Dr Mapp said the appointment of a New Zealander who would have Fijian soldiers under his command was not an endorsement of the Fiji regime.

"We decided ultimately there was a bigger issue than Fiji but truthfully, we would prefer the Fijians weren't there,'' he said. .

Brig Whiting has been in the New Zealand Army since 1978.

In 1981, Major General Donald McIver was appointed to (the) same position.

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