Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2015-05-01

FIJI – PRIDE OF THE PACIFIC

Defense industries urged to help smaller states
The proud Pacific nation of Fiji has an illustrious military history. It’s highly-regarded soldiers can be found in peace-keeping missions in many countries, including the Middle East region. Fiji’s Minister for Immigration, National security and defence, Hon Mr. Timoci L Natuva gives an insight into the Fijian military,  how it needs improved equipment and also how it can forge close ties with the UAE.
 
By: Staff Lt. Col. Yousef AlHaddad, 
Editor in Chief
 
From your perspective, how do you see the cooperation between the UAE and the Republic of Fiji for conducting international peacekeeping missions?
We already have 1,000 troops active now in the Middle East. In our role to keep the peace, we have the human resources, the manpower, but we are lacking in the right equipment. If the UAE can provide us and create a partnership in equipping us with what we really want, then that would be really good for the nation and the region as a whole. 
 
How do you see the UAE’s defense industry such as Tawazun and Mubadala? What are your thoughts on their future?
For regions in the Pacific like Fiji and other smaller states, the defense industries should go out and look at the needs of these smaller states. Not only in the Pacific, but in other parts of the world, because most of the major industries at the moment are concentrating on bigger products such as aircraft. These industries should go and look at other parts of the world and see what they really need and see what they can afford. That would enlarge the sphere of the industry. Nobody is doing that at the moment. 
 
What was your main reason to visit IDEX 2015?
I would like to take this opportunity and thank the government of the UAE for inviting my delegation. The purpose of our being here is to come and look at the technology of the future direction of defense and how we can learn from this and progress. Also, it gives us the chance to look at how much time and effort has been spent by the UAE. The modern military force in the world goes with technology. We are behind with our technology. 
 
We have peacekeeping operations for Fiji; our troops are serving in the Golan Heights in Lebanon and in the Sinai deserts and we would like to equip them with modern equipment and modern sensors in order to go with the technology. On the other side, the enemy forces or the people who are against us, when we are trying to have peaceful nations, they are also advancing in technology. So we need to have the upper hand in order to protect our soldiers in the field. If we don’t use advanced technology then we are left behind and the rebels will be able to takeover. They took 45 of our soldiers last year. What we found out from that was that they were not equipped properly in order to resist the enemy. It would have been suicidal if they had tried to engage them. So we are here to see how we can equip our soldiers in peacekeeping operations.
 
What do you think is special about the UAE’s shows, be it IDEX or the Dubai Airshow?
The uniqueness of the shows here is the defense industries. They offer custom-made solutions that meet the current needs. For example, we look at the Coastguard patrol boat; we would like to use that in our police force as it will help us intercept smugglers. I come from a maritime nation state and Fiji has been used as meeting point from where people can go to Australia or New Zealand. So we are trying to equip our police force with the right equipment, the right vehicles and the right boats. At the moment, people who deal drugs have boats faster than our police. And the UAE Coastguards speed is about 60 knots which is suitable for us. If we get four or five for Fiji it would deter these dealers. 
 
How do you see the strategic relationship with the UAE and Fiji? 
We have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Fiji military forces and the UAE. I think the partnership will continue for the better in the future and how we can help each other in the area of defense. Another area that I would like to mention is the display of automatic guns that you can control from inside. We are acquiring patrol boats in 2016. The old style is you have 20 millimeter with men firing from on top of the deck and we are looking at using the guns on our 40-meter patrol boats. I think it will be able to help us. 
 
The relationship between the Fiji and the UAE, your foreign minister was in Fiji recently.  He met our prime minister and discussed about how we can reinforce the relationship. Fiji is the hub of the Pacific and we would like to have more integration of how the UAE can help us in training, giving guidance and other areas. The UAE is very advanced and can give us advice on how we can go forward in relations to transnational issues and crimes. Also, cybercrime has become a problem throughout the world and we hope to learn how the UAE can help us in that area. 
 
The UAE has recently made it mandatory for all qualified citizens to take part in the national service. From your perspective, what is the importance of national service in general?
We are also look for ways and means of outsourcing our soldiers. We have been in the Middle East, in Lebanon since 1978. We have been in the Sinai Desert since 1982. I was the Contingent Commander in Iraq when our troops were there and we have our special forces who are able to give safety for the United Nations troops in Iraq and we are still doing it now. In Fiji, the literacy rate is about 96 per cent, so everybody goes to school. We are trying to utilize our people in areas such as security and our specialties. In Sinai at the moment, the role that was played by Americans for the security of the workers in the area has now been taken over by the Fiji troops. 
 
The UAE has played a major role in humanitarian help in other countries. What are your thoughts on that?
I would like to congratulate the UAE for doing that and for looking after people who are disadvantaged. I think for every nation state in the world by helping the underprivileged, the UAE is showing the way forward for countries who will be able to support in that area. In the world today, some countries have the finance but don’t have the will to help others. We believe in helping others because God is looking at us and we should be blessed for looking after the underprivileged. 
 
What is the importance of the news media especially for the military?
It’s very important that the public should be aware. It should be transparent and they should be aware of what’s happening around them. For instance, for intelligence, you need all the people to be a part of it. Right from the ministers, to people working in the government to the general population, we have to share the information in order to protect everyone. The old paradigm is that only the officials look after intelligence but now the way forward for everyone is to give information to the government to help them and share information. The media tells the public that they have a role to play and should not leave it on the government officers.
 

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