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Bridge between the Military University of Land Forces in Wrocław and Canada

November 2019 – After a 10 year absence, Polish forces are back in Lebanon with the Blue Helmets for the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) to protect the local population and bring the stability to allow for a political solution to the 30 year struggle in the region.

November 22, 2019 - New Eastern Europe - Articles and Commentary

Photo courtesy of Military University of Land Forces in Wrocław

Polish and Hungarian troops will be under Irish command for this high profile operation that is closely monitored by the UN Security Council given its importance for the Middle East Peace Process.

On November 7th, the Military University of Land Forces (MULF), in co-operation with The Bridge Foundation, hosted a tele-conference with General John de Chastelain in Ottawa on “Peace-building: learnings for Poland from the Northern Ireland peace process”.

During a military career that spanned four decades, General de Chastelain led the Canadian military through the end of the Cold War and the Gulf War, and was Canadian Ambassador to the United States under two prime ministers. Upon retiring from the armed forces in 1995, he was asked to head the Independent Commission on De-Commissioning in Northern Ireland. Through his extraordinary patience and persistence, he persuaded paramilitary groups on both sides of the conflict to lay down their weapons for which he earned his place in history as a peacemaker.  

During the meeting that was very popular among the university cadets, especially the fourth and fifth year students the general said: -If you want peace, prepare for war – recalling words that are well known to the Academy, while emphasizing that nobody cares more about peace than soldiers themselves.

Asked about advice he could give to cadets, he said: “Do what your country expects of you. Understand all the aspects of your profession and use your experience to fulfil your role to the best of your ability. As leaders, try to understand the needs of your subordinates and always strive for perfection.”

General John de Chastelain has a long career focused on peacebuilding.

General de Chastelain expressed joy and confidence about Poland’s participation in UNIFIL adding that co-operation with the experienced and professional Irish side, which will be commanding the battalion the Poles will join, will be very fruitful. Wishing Poland much success, General de Chastelain stressed that cadets must take their education and training very seriously given the challenges that Poland and the region will be facing in the very near future. He encouraged the cadets to develop cutting-edge skills in cyber-warfare, the new battlefield of the 21st century.  

The inspiring life and deeds of General de Chastelain echoed the motto of the military academy that takes great pride in going beyond a first class military education by turning its cadets into great leaders with integrity and character.

This article is published in the framework of New Eastern Europe’s ongoing media partnership with the Polish-based Bridge Foundation. Learn more about their activities here: https://www.thebridge-foundation.org/the-bridge

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