PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says government desires a defence force that is well grounded in professionalism.
He says officers should possess balanced knowledge not only in matters of defence and security, but also in other disciplines of knowledge.
During the graduation ceremony of the 22nd command and staff course yesterday, President Lungu talked about the effects of climate change which had continued to cause misery among the people across the sub region and beyond.
“We cannot avoid touching on this topic because of its adverse effects on the country such as drought and floods and the urgent need to seek viable solutions to this challenge. We need sustainable solutions to address this phenomenon. Therefore, the challenge, I wish to throw to you graduating officers is that you need to rise to the occasion by coming up with innovative measures aimed at providing technologically smart solutions for us to address the climate change challenges which continue to confront us,” he said.
“All of us have no choice but to do something about it now even by planting a tree or two at individual level.”
President Lungu said the government’s desire was to see a defence force well-grounded in professionalism with officers that possess balanced knowledge, not only in matters of defence and security, but also in other disciplines of knowledge.
He said the government was determined to equip officers with abilities which would enable them to continue contributing to national development beyond their years in the service.
President Lungu said he was aware that for the first time in the college history, students from the Command and Staff College, and the University of Zambia defence and security studies were graduating on the same day.
He reiterated the need to use limited resources efficiently in line with the government’s austerity measures.
President Lungu said the memorandum of understanding between the college, and the University of Zambia affirmed the government’s aspiration to widen the officers’ horizons of knowledge.
He said he was informed that the seventh intake for the masters programme comprising officers from the defence and security services started in march this year and likewise, 10 intakes had graduated in the diploma programme.
On peace and security, President Lungu said Zambia had an obligation to support efforts aimed at pursuing global peace and security, by building strong foundations in war-torn societies, and preventing the resurgence of violent conflict.
He said sustainable development could only thrive in an environment where there was peace and security.
President Lungu said he was confident that the graduates had been adequately prepared in peace and security matters.
“This includes intra-state conflict in particular, an emerging threat to peace and security,” he said.
President Lungu said intra-state conflict comprised all forms of violence which occur within a state, ranging from war to riots, ethnic war, revolutionary wars, anti-government demonstrations, guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
He said the conduct of the Combined Joint African Exercise (CJAX) code named Uhuru had continued to be an important planning tool in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) command, and staff colleges.
He said the continued success of CJAX which deals with peace support operations held simultaneously in the command and staff colleges of the SADC region was aimed at harmonising the planning process.
President Lungu said the exercise was a positive step towards overcoming the challenges of diversity and achieving the desired synergy.
He said the 2019 Combined Joint African Exercise was very unique because it recorded a strategic milestone as the African Union Peace Support operations department was represented for the first time.
President Lungu said the Zambia Defence Services Command and Staff College further demonstrated enhanced information technology capabilities by conducting the final day of CJAX by video-tele conferencing.
He said this was despite a number of challenges ascribed to poor internet live streaming.
President Lungu assured the college of the government’s support to further improve its capability.
He said the effectiveness of the SADC Brigade and the African Union standby force planning processes, had been embraced by other regional blocks.
“Peace comes at a great cost, and my government will continue to support such initiatives within limited resources,” President Lungu said.
He said Zambia was committed to respecting the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
President Lungu said the government’s desire was to continue to cooperate with the neighbouring countries and those beyond the borders in an effort to develop the nation and establish peace in the region and the African continent.
“We will always stand ready to actively participate in all initiatives aimed at supporting peace through meetings or indeed contribution of troops for peacekeeping operations through the African Union and the United Nations,” he said.
President Lungu paid glowing tribute to the governments of the Kingdom of eSwatini, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe for hosting students this year.
He further said the spirit of cooperation exhibited by respective governments in Southern and East African regions through the continued exchange of students, and directing staff between the staff colleges was commendable.
He said the government aspired to have a professional defence force capable of responding to all national, regional and global challenges.
President Lungu said necessary support would be rendered to modernising the defence force, and transforming the college into a Centre for Military Academic Excellency.
He said since the college premises and facilities were inadequate for the required intake, a new site for a staff college had been acquired, and the design and drawings of the infrastructure were already in place, awaiting funding for construction.
President Lungu said the government would ensure that it makes the construction of the new staff college a reality.