By Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Swinton
Judge Advocate General, Royal Australian Navy
Among 1,650 Australian personnel deployed to Rim of the Pacific 2016, I am the judge advocate general for the Maritime Forces Component Commander, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, and I lead a team of military lawyers from the U.S., Canada and Chile.
It was because of my experiences from the major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort in Fiji that I was chosen to take part in a keynote address on Women, Peace and Security during Rim of the Pacific 2016.
I was honored to be part of a panel for the RIMPAC maritime security symposium and Women, Peace and Security panel with Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, combined task force and commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet.
During the panel, several of us spoke at length with multi-national partners at RIMPAC, exploring the United Nations Security Council 1325 agenda on Women, Peace and Security and its application for inclusive security in the full range of military operations.
I was privileged to share with my RIMPAC coalition partners the means and methods the Australian Defence Force is using to implement the United Nations security council’s 1325 agenda in operations and exercises and being able to provide recent examples from my time on Operation FIJI ASSIST.
I was among the first contingent of about 650 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to Operation Fiji Assist onboard HMAS Canberra after the devastating impact of Cyclone Winston in March 2016. As part of the operation, I was assigned as an Australian Defence Force gender advisor.
I was an integral part of the Joint Task Force Headquarters and was able to advise the commander on the consideration of Women, Peace and Security in both the planning and conduct of the operation for greater operational effectiveness.
What does this mean exactly? It means that we strive to empower half of the world’s population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence and insecurity. The United Nations security council’s 1325 agenda is based on four pillars:
- Prevention of armed conflicts and war by implementing the gender perspective in national and international peace negotiations, activities and security policy.
- Participation and decision making of women in peace making, post conflict reconstruction and the prevention of conflict.
- Protection of women and children in armed conflict.
- Gender perspective in peace operations and negotiations.
The RIMPAC Women, Peace and Security panel was developed within the construct of those four pillars with the intent of implementing the Women, Peace and Security initiative into the overall exercise, with efforts and lessons learned within the exercise supporting and informing broader requirements on Women, Peace and Security within the Australian and U.S. national action plans.
Our Women, Peace and Security efforts during RIMPAC 2016 will further our initiatives in future exercises and operations.
Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, a bi-annual Australian-U.S. military exercise hosted in Australia, was the first time Women, Peace and Security was integrated into a large-scale exercise. The lessons learned during that exercise became a blue print for employment within RIMPAC 2016.
Australia has found it highly beneficial to employ specialists to focus on advising gender perspectives in operations; our gender advisors, commanders and operational teams all derive great benefit from the valuable practical experience gained and relationships built during military exercises.
RIMPAC is a multinational exercise held from June 30 to August 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California with more than 25,000 personnel from 26 countries.
The exercise seeks to enhance interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces, ostensibly as a means of promoting stability in the region to the benefit of all participating nations. The exercise helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.
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