Kumar Leads Fi­jian Bat­tal­ion to Si­nai

First time in the his­tory of the Repub­lic of the Fiji Mil­i­tary Forces, an Indo-Fi­jian takes charge in Tour of Duty

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ARIETA VAKASUKAWAQA

For the first time, an Indo-Fi­jian will com­mand a Repub­lic of Fiji Mil­i­tary Forces (RFMF) bat­tal­ion on in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing du­ties. Lieu­tenant-Colonel Avin­ish Kumar has been ap­pointed Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer 2FIR, to lead the Fi­jian bat­tal­ion serv­ing in the in­creas­ingly volatile Si­nai..

The 37-year-old re­cently at­tained a Masters in In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity from Massey Univer­sity in New Zealand; a course which was un­der the New Zealand De­fence Force Staff and Com­mand Col­lege. The for­mer Suva Gram­mar School stu­dent first at­tained his train­ing to be­come an of­fi­cer with the RFMF at the New Zealand De­fence Force Of­fi­cer Cadet School in 1999.

“I am priv­i­leged to be given this op­por­tu­nity; to lead more than 300 Fi­jian troops in Si­nai. It is an hon­our, but at the same it comes with chal­lenges; this will boost my ca­reer as well. “Ev­ery peace keep­ing du­ties come with dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences and it also de­pends on the role be­stowed upon you and the sit­u­a­tion in that par­tic­u­lar country,” he said.

Lieu­tenant-Colonel Kumar’s first de­ploy­ment for tour on duty (TOD) was in East Ti­mor where he was the pla­toon com­man­der in 2000. “I was de­ployed to East Ti­mor af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the New Zealand De­fence Force Of­fi­cers Cadet School; this was an op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally prac­tice what I have learnt as a ju­nior of­fi­cer that time.

“I held var­i­ous po­si­tions within the RFMF for the past years; with the as­sis­tance of my se­nior of­fi­cers and train­ing I was able to suc­cess­fully move up the ranks within the Fi­jian mil­i­tary,” he said. He also served in Iraq, Syria and was de­ployed two times to East Ti­mor; this will be his sec­ond de­ploy­ment to Si­nai. “In the past when I was de­ployed to Syria part of the first bat­tal­ion for UNDOF where I was the oper­a­tions of­fi­cer it was the most chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; this is where most chal­lenges emerged dur­ing that one year TOD.

“There were lot of tough sit­u­a­tions we en­counter, but ba­si­cally re­ly­ing on the ex­pe­ri­ence of our sol­diers and ad­vice of the com­mand; we were able to get out the best out of the bat­tal­ion.

“It was a unique ex­pe­ri­ence es­pe­cially where the blue hel­met or wear­ing the United Na­tions hel­met. “You are work­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where the threat level is high and you have to be alert at all times to know what to ex­pect next,” he said. Lieu­tenant-Colonel Kumar ad­vised RFMF sol­diers serv­ing in Si­nai that their duty was to ful­fill their mis­sion given to them from the RFMF Com­man­der and the Fi­jian Govern­ment.

“Don’t be dis­tracted and try to fo­cus on your mis­sion; it is our duty to as­sist the MFO in ob­serv­ing the mis­sion; ob­serve, ver­ify and re­port all ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen­ing in Si­nai.

“If you are think­ing of go­ing to Si­nai to do other things apart from do­ing your job; then I guess you are in the wrong place; don’t lose fo­cus and al­ways be alert at all times, so that we can carry out our mis­sion suc­cess­fully. “Si­nai had changed over the years; it has be­come volatile and its time that we start adapt­ing to that sit­u­a­tion; there are only two el­e­ments of this mis­sion; dis­ci­pline and train­ing which will con­trib­ute to our suc­cess,” he said. Lieu­tenant-Colonel Kumar has also at­tained mil­i­tary train­ing from Aus­tralia, In­dia, Bangladesh and Malaysia. “Ev­ery country has dif­fer­ent ways to of­fer mil­i­tary train­ing, but I am

hon­oured to have been given the op­por­tu­nity to learn from th­ese coun­tries and it will help me in the long run within the RFMF.

“It will also help us to work with coun­tries in peace­keep­ing en­vi­ron­ments or given the sit­u­a­tion where NZ and Aus­tralia came in to as­sist us on TC Win­ston cov­er­age,” he said. Lieu­tenant-Colonel Kumar thanked his mother for be­ing the men­tor be­hind all his achieve­ments in life. “My fa­ther died when I was just three months old; it is my mother who has been the pil­lar of our fam­ily’s suc­cess, we en­dured the strug­gles with chal­lenges and our hum­ble up­bring­ing from our mother; we were able to con­quer it all. “I want to thank the Almighty for his guid­ance; lead­ing me to a path to where I am to­day and also the RFMF se­nior of­fi­cers and sub­or­di­nates for putting trust­ing me to lead our Fi­jian troops in Si­nai,” he said.

His mother, 65-year-old, Nand Ku­mari said she al­ways taught her five chil­dren to be hum­ble de­spite what they achieve in life. “I have al­ways taught my chil­dren when they were young to be hum­ble; no mat­ter what you achieve in life; re­mem­ber to al­ways be hum­ble and don’t look down on other peo­ple “My son has done me proud; most of the times he will be de­ployed for peace­keep­ing mis­sions or train­ing over­seas and I miss him but then he has a duty to carry out,” she said. Edited by Maraia Vula

Photo: Paulini Rat­u­lailai

Lieu­tenant-Colonel Avin­ish Kumar with his mother Nand Kumar at their home at Bayview Heights in Nabua yes­ter­day.

Photo: Paulini Rat­u­lailai

Lieu­tenant-Colonel Avin­ish Kumar.

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