U.S. NAVY IN TONGA TO GUIDE SECURITY, HELP COMMUNITY

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Defense agency offers $196,000 for military training

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Radio Tonga News, Dec. 16, 2008) - The Tonga Defense Services will be able to maintain high standards in terms of military training and education, thanks to the United States

Defense Security Cooperation Agency plans to support this with a budget of around 400,000 paanga [US$196,000]

This was highlighted during an annual meeting on International military education and training was yesterday afternoon held at the Tonga defense Services headquarters.

The program is a key funding component of the United States security assistance for students from allied and friendly nations, Tonga included.

Tonga Defense Commander Brigadier General Tau'aika 'Uta'atu, Colonel Siamelie Latu and other senior officers participated in the one day deliberation with the U.S Defense Attaché, Commander Robert Forwood Jnr from the U.S Embassy in Fiji.

Commander Forwood Jnr said they have set aside close to TOP$400,000 [US$196,000] in their current fiscal year which started from the 1st October this year to the 30th of September 2009 to help with Tonga’s military training.

"We have a certain amount of money set aside for the Tongan defense services" personnel’s to go to the United States and attend some military training courses.

We send them to English classes in the States and there are other military education courses such as management, leadership development courses and other course that Tonga has been involved with in the past several years, explained the visiting US. Defense Attaché.

Issues raised during the meeting include key areas put forward by the Tonga Defense Services such as different education programs at Navy and Military Academies, and Tonga's next step when the Tongan troops withdraw from its peace keeping missions in Iraq.

Meanwhile the U.S defense is also gearing their attention towards community projects in Tonga. Commander Forwood said there is a program that is called the Pacific partnership endeavors in the South Pacific Tonga included where they may have a ship coming to Tonga around June-August every year.

"There is usually a construction team on board and they provide assistance in rebuilding a community center, schools including a minor construction like painting a school and other community type related project,"Commander Forwood Jnr said.

The U.S Commander held high regard for Tonga’s third contingent that is returning home after serving more than four months in Iraq."I had the privilege of escorting Brigadier 'Uta'atu to Iraq a couple of weeks ago in December and I was thoroughly impressed with the Tongan Defense Services that were sent to Iraq to guard the Alfaw Palace in

Baghdad. Your troops (Tongan) have a tremendous reputation in Iraq and I think there were a lot of sad people to see them during the closing ceremony we had. And we appreciate your contribution," said the visting U.S Defense Attaché.

Commander Robert Forwood Jnr leaves Tonga for Fiji today.

Tonga Broadcasting Commission © Copyright by Tonga-broadcasting.com

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