UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a decorated Indian Army officer as the new Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar, 57, will succeed Lieutenant General Frank Kamanzi of Rwanda who completes his assignment on May 26. The announcement was made by the UN chief on Friday.
The decorated Indian Army officer "has had a long and distinguished career with the Indian Armed Forces spanning over 34 years," a statement by the UN Spokesperson said. Tinaikar graduated from the Indian Military Academy in 1983 and is currently serving as the Commandant of the Infantry School since July 2018. He previously served as the Additional Director General of Military Operations at the Army Headquarters from 2017 to 2018. From 2012 to 2017, he commanded a division, a recruit training centre and a brigade.
Tinaikar was awarded the Sena Medal and the Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service. From 1996 to 1997, he served in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission III, and from 2008 to 2009, in the United Nations Mission in Sudan. He holds a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Defence and Strategic Studies from The University of Madras.
India, the fourth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions, currently contributes more than 6,400 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, the Middle East, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.
The UN mission in South Sudan, a country born in July 2011, has 19,400 personnel deployed with it as of March 2019. India is the second highest troop contributing country to UNMISS with 2,337 Indian peacekeepers, second only to Rwanda with 2,750. In addition, India currently contributes 22 police personnel to UNMISS.