In January 2019, Brazilian Army Lieutenant Colonel Fábio Rodrigo de Assis joined a multinational team that prepares service members, police officers, and civilians from Ethiopia and other African nations to join United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions in Africa. The Brazilian officer’s work stems from an exchange agreement the Brazilian and Ethiopian ministries of Defense signed in 2017.
Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo carries out his duties at the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Peace Support Training Center (FDRE-PSTC), in Addis Ababa, capital of the country. Each year Ethiopia sends about 12,500 people to serve in UN peacekeeping operations in conflict regions in Africa. Part of the contingent goes through FDRE-PSTC, which offers more than 20 short courses a year, including training in conflict prevention and management, military observation, and civilian and international human rights protection, among others. Each course accommodates about 25 students from different nationalities.
“My main assignment has been to conduct evaluations to measure and analyze the level of student satisfaction regarding certain aspects of the courses, as well as to verify whether they’ve learned through tests,” said Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo. The officer also teaches and takes part in developing a curriculum for the courses.
He also attends meetings and conferences on peacekeeping operations at the FDRE-PSTC and the African Union. The international organization, whose headquarters are also in Addis Ababa, was created in 2002 to promote integration among African countries.
Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo doesn’t carry out his mission alone. The FDRE-PSTC team has three foreign officers each from the United States, England, and France, who joined efforts with Ethiopian professionals to conduct the classes.
“All PSTC instructors, both foreign and Ethiopians, have either taken part in peacekeeping missions or have vast experience and knowledge in this area,” said Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo, whose peacekeeping knowledge is also one of the reasons why he was selected as a Brazilian representative in the Ethiopian training center.
Between 2002 and 2003, Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo served in the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. At the time, the Brazilian contingent carried out the UN Military Police mission. “I contributed to the platoon’s tasks when I served as group commander and logistics officer, assisting the platoon in checkpoints, convoy escort, leaders’ security, and patrol tasks,” the officer said.
For Lt. Col. Fábio Rodrigo, life at FDRE-PSTC with coworkers has been a daily learning curve. “This is an unprecedented opportunity in my career,” he said, pointing out that the experience exchange also happens with students. “In addition to the experience among instructors, it’s worth mentioning that classroom activities are invaluable. The majority of students have previously participated in peacekeeping missions and have a lot of knowledge to share.”
Ethiopia was the first to send representatives to the collaborative mission as part of the exchange agreement between both countries. In 2018, two Ethiopian service members took part in activities at the Brazilian Joint Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CCOPAB, in Portuguese), in Rio de Janeiro.
Ethiopian Army Colonel Tamrat Andarge, joined the foreign instructor staff at the Civil-Military Coordination Internship of June 2018. The objective of the training was to share and standardize knowledge to carry out civil-military tasks within the scope of the UN. In November 2018, Ethiopian Army Colonel Temesgen Gidore joined a team of internship instructors to train service members and police officers on how to carry out tasks in peacekeeping operations worldwide as members of the Joint Staff, the UN Police, and military observers.
“The exchange with other centers is very important, as it promotes the exchange of teaching methodologies other countries use,” said the CCOPAB Press Office. “In practical terms, it enables interaction among instructors and students from different walks of life and experiences, who work together to build knowledge and new teaching techniques.” The Brazilian training center maintains instructor exchange agreements with institutions from seven partner nations: Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.