Franck Kuwonu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 June 2021:
Kossi Gavon, 24, is a lieutenant from Togo serving in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali. (MINUSMA). He is one of the youngest peacekeepers, he is the Chief of Staff managing the office of the Togolese battalion commander. He says he is grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn:
You are one of the youngest peacekeepers in the Togolese battalion in the mission in Mali. How did you manage to get deployed?
KV: It wasn’t a personal choice. I arrived on Malian soil on an administrative assignment. As the military, our duty is to protect the civilian population and to protect the interests of our countries. Stability in the [West African] sub-region is one of these interests, and as there is a need in Mali, our seniors saw it fit to send us here. They are committed to the stability in the sub-region, and it is with that in mind that I was assigned to the mission.
Being young, how do you feel about being on such an important assignment?
KV: I feel privileged. It is important to involve young officers in missions like this.
What are your functions on a daily basis?
KV: I am in charge of human resources and I am also the Chief of Staff of the Togolese battalion commander. I work with the other staff officers, especially in operations and intelligence. This allows me to acquire additional skills, and I benefit a lot from their experience.
Being young and working with senior staff officers appears to be an asset for you. What would be two or three things you have learned from them?
KV: I work with much more experienced officers who completed many staff courses. I have learned a lot from them, especially in the areas of planning and organization. There are many things to do before deployment missions, and they help me in organizing my work properly.
Are there any downsides to being so young in peacekeeping?
KV: Being the youngest here, I think what I miss most is my family. But I can reassure you that there is a second family that fills the void – my military family here. Together, we have a very close bond.
You are involved mostly in administrative tasks. Do you ever find yourself in the field and or on the frontline?
I can say that by being in the theater of operation, we are in combat since UN bases are not spared from attacks by jihadist groups. Working in these conditions, one doesn’t necessarily need to go out to the field to say that they are in combat.
How is your typical day like?
KV: As chief of staff, I have to follow up on the agenda of the Colonel commanding the battalion, and attend and follow up on everything that falls under him. And as head of human resources, I am also responsible for following up on personnel issues.
How do you feel when your colleagues are out there on the frontline, facing danger on a daily basis?
KV: There are several emotions at once. I am concerned when my comrades are in the field because the threat is real, it’s present and it’s not negligible. But when they accomplish their mission and they come back, I am at the same time fulfilled because we are accomplishing a noble task, which is protecting the civilian population and maintaining peace in our zone of responsibility.
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Good luck to this young Togolese office Lt.Kossi Govan. He is spot on when he said, his efforts under the auspicious of the United Nations peace keeping mission in Mali, for which his country is one of fifty – six contributing nations, comprising fourteen thousands, troops,is great. Separate to that we have more than five thousand French, with American reconnaissance, and British, help battling this Free Lance Islamic jihadist, that are fighting to establish the West African region as the new Mecca for Jihadist misfits after their defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria by American and its NATO allies. And Russian intervention in Syria to popped up President Assad . The Sahel region is vast, and present a huge challenge for all the countries involved in this fight between good and evil . This so-called Islamist jihadist, is nothing Islamic about their actions. Kidnappings and raping women and girls, is not what the Koran teaches any practising Muslim. They are just free loaders terrorist.
The distance between Sierra Leone and Mali is just 1317KM. This hostile terrain, with it porous borders is difficult to police in best of time. This latest coup by Lt.Colonel Assimi Goita, couple with corruption, poverty, infighting amongst the allies, especially between France and the military junta in Mali, will take away the fucus from the counter terrorist operation. And that is exactly what the Islamist terrorist want. Because since they are in the back foot now, division amongst the allies, will give them enough breathing space to regroup, rearmed and plan more outrageous attacks on poor citizens of this countries that are locked in this deadly fight. That is why we should not allow them to turn Mali and the west African region as the melting pot of terrorism. The security of Sierra Leone and all our neighbours is at stake. president Bio should do what he can to help stabilise Mali.
Congratulations senior staff of arm force in Togolese as the youngest chief of arm force in Togo, I wish you all the best in your office as you put your country first and also the president of Sierra Leone to summon this peace keeping to ECOWAS concerning the issue in Mali.