RBAF men leave for Unifil mission

National 2 minutes, 47 seconds


NINE Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) personnel have been dispatched as the third contingent for the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, reaffirming Brunei's commitment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil). The soldiers were given an official send-off yesterday at a ceremony at Hangar B of the Royal Brunei Air Force Base in Rimba.

Brunei's contingent will be leaving for Lebanon to maintain peace and stability in the troubled nation, in line with the mandate of the United Nations. It will also be an opportunity for RBAF to show its presence in the UN peacekeeping force.

Major (Dr) Hj Azlan Hj Suhailee will be leading the team made up of Warrant Officer I Khairul Hj Hamid, Warrant Officer 2 Murni Hj Ahmad, Warrant Officer 2 Mohamad Jais Hj Mohamad Alleh, Warrant Officer 2 Julai Jinab, Staff Sergeant Morislin Hj Mohamad, Sergeant Muhammad Razid Abdullah, Sergeant Pengiran Aswira Pengiran Hj Metassan, and Sergeant Mohd Bokhari Hj Hassan for the Unifil mission.

"It is an honour to be chosen to join in this international mission. I believe this is one of the first few steps before heading to bigger commitments internationally in the future," said Major (Dr) Hj Azlan.

Being a first-timer in an international peacekeeping mission, Major Hj Azlan said that he and his team were well-prepared physically and mentally and that he was determined not to be anxious about leaving his family and home behind for a few months.

"Even though we will be far away from home for nine months, thankfully with the advancement of technology available today and provided to us there, it will be much easier for us to keep in touch with our families and we get the chance to call home," he added.

The more seasoned Warrant Officer I Khairul said that this would be his second international assignment after his previous mission for relief efforts in tsunami-hit Aceh in 2005.

"The experience in Aceh has taught me how to face any situation. Though the experience in Lebanon would not be as similar, or probably much tougher, I am ready to face any challenges ahead," he added.

"Once again, I am proud to be selected again for another international mission. It is a milestone for me in my 23 years in the service, with only a few more years left before I retire," said Khairul, who also coincidentally celebrated his 43rd birthday yesterday.

Present to hand over the national flag to the Brunei contingent was RBAF Commander Major General Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin, in the presence of senior officers from the Ministry of Defence, RBAF officers, and family members of the nine personnel.

The team is RBAF's third deployment since their first and second deployment which began in 2008. The first time RBAF deployed its soldiers to participate in Malaysian Armed Forces' (MAF) UN peacekeeping mission was under the command of the Malcon (Malaysian Contingent) West 1 contingent. Five RBAF soldiers were among the soldiers of Malcon West 1 that replaced Qatar servicemen under Unifil at the end of 2008.

Similar to the initial deployment, the RBAF personnel will be embedded within a team primarily comprising their Malaysian counterparts, under the command of the Malcon West 2, which was formed in 2009.

The team will depart this week. No exact date was given.

The Brunei Times