Call to evolve with time
  By Waleed PD Mahdini

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as the Minister of Defence and the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), yesterday called on the country's military not to get left behind by the multitude of ever-changing geopolitical landscapes and scenarios.

"In this era of globalisation, the RBAF cannot be excluded from confronting a variety of complex situations that demand the officers to adopt a more courageous and vigilant attitude.

"They must at all times be fully aware of every development and prepared to face every eventuality," said His Majesty in his titah, which was delivered at the official opening of the RBAF's Staff College at the Defence Academy compound in Sungai Akar.

The monarch cautioned that "one cannot achieve this objective if one takes a passive and complacent attitude", instead urging the armed forces to be "proactive and dynamic in adjusting to the present reality".

Towards this goal, "the RBAF must be able to take a more practical approach, especially by giving more emphasis on inter-agency and multi-national operations with the concept of Joint Operations and Joint Operational Planning", the Supreme Commander said.

It was in this context that His Majesty lauded the RBAF for "having progress in its successfully establishing a higher training institution - the Staff College of the RBAF", which the monarch said he was "deeply proud of the fact that the Ministry of Defence and the RBAF have continued to stride towards improving the quality of its services".

The monarch then highlighted that the Staff College, whose main purpose is "to contribute towards improving the management and development of the human resources, will be in a position to produce skillful and knowledgeable senior ranking officers" and that it was in its drive to take this to the next level that the new defence institution "must play a role in embedding understanding among its officers on the importance of setting out priorities and leadership qualities, as well as having full awareness of the security environment that may have direct links towards the overall strategic interest".

Underscoring the importance of joint operations in the current and evolving theatre of operations and planning, the monarch pointed out that this "important concept must not only be understood by all but must also be widened continuously in order to achieve an overall result that would satisfy the needs of all stakeholders".

With the participation of 20 officers in the inaugural Command and Staff Course of which seven are from foreign armed forces, His Majesty recognised this importance and congratulated the participants of the first class, as "their contribution would provide a different perspective of their experiences in dealing with security issues that would add value to the training course and research" and that "their interaction would enrich their learning process and experience, as well as exchange of ideas on the basis of reciprocity and, at the same time, strengthen defence cooperation and networking among the participating countries".

Despite the very recent official opening of the Staff College, the monarch had already pinned his hope on the reminder not to rest on their laurels and the defence institution "would continue its efforts in gaining the appropriate recognition for its successful participants in the academic achievement".

Highlighting the collaborative arrangement with New Zealand's Massey University, which was made last July, the monarch acknowledged the recognition that the defence course would provide the participants with a Post Graduate Diploma in Defence and Strategic Studies, as well as the opportunity to pursue further studies at the Masters level. "This in my view is a wise approach that would benefit its participants."

Speaking on the other benefits that the establishment of the Staff College would generate, such as the "establishment of the RBAF's Defence Academy", His Majesty further pointed out that "it is imperative to ensure that the courses conducted by the college are recognised as prestigious so as to contribute towards making the Defence Academy as a centre of excellence for defence professional development and will be of the same standing as other similar organisations in the region".

The monarch challenged this point further. "Every course that is being conducted by the Defence Academy must continue to be monitored by carrying out appropriate validating processes to ensure that they remain relevant in accordance with the demands of time and situation. If this can be implemented, I believe, the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces will achieve its proper objective." - Borneo Bulletin (26th November 2010)