UN Peacekeeping Military and Police personnel—the “Blue Helmets” and the “Blue Berets”—have been an integral part of peace operations since 1948.
The uniformed women and men that serve as UN Peacekeepers are seconded to work with the Organization by their national armies and police services (Troop Contributing Countries and Police Contributing Countries (TCCs/PCCs)) in a tour of duty at peacekeeping missions around the world.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) branches and the Signal Units of these forces play a key role in the success of peacekeeping operations. Specialized uniformed ICT personnel serve under the blue flag as UN Signals. Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR); and Camp Security capabilities support day-to-day and crisis operations. Together, they act as key enablers and force multipliers to safety and security activities.
UN Signals and C4ISR and Camp Security specialists work alongside UN civilian personnel in the ICT and Geospatial Information Service (GIS) sections of the UN Missions. They augment these capacities and are responsible for the information flow between key elements of the military and police headquarters at Force, Sector, Battalion, and Independent Unit Headquarters levels; mission leadership and civilians—keeping everyone informed and ready to respond.
Cross-cutting ICT systems are provided by the UN to ensure that there is communications and information interoperability between the forces of the different countries serving a mission, since the national systems they bring to peacekeeping locations vary and often do not work across one another. This requires the military and police signals as well as the civilian C4ISR and Camp Security specialists to be familiar with operating and supporting UN-Owned Equipment, and to have a common understanding of UN standard operating procedures. These are two key objectives of the United Nations C4ISR Academy (UNCAP).
Preparing Uniformed C4ISR Personnel for Their Service Under the Blue Flag
Originally established as the UN Signals Academy in 2015, the training centre was renamed the UN C4ISR Academy in 2020. UNCAP is committed to enhancing the preparedness of military signals, police and civilian peacekeeping C4ISR personnel—set to deploy into UN peacekeeping missions—with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully function in a UN environment and to perform at the highest levels.
The school was a key outcome of the first “Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping” international symposium held in Brindisi, Italy, in 2014. The event aimed to bring more involvement to peacekeeping and enhance the technological cooperation between the UN military and UN civilian personnel. The idea for a signals training centre was proposed after identifying critical gaps in ICT capacity in the TCCs/PCCs and the need to build their capacity through targeted training. In response, UNCAP was approved as a viable project and launched several months later.
The Academy is located in Uganda at the Regional Service Centre-Entebbe. The programme is co-managed by the Department of Operational Support and the Operations Support Division of the Office of Information and Communications Technology at UN Headquarters in New York, United States of America.
The training centre represents a strong commitment by Member States to work as one, fostering operational consistency amid the diversity of national forces that come together under the UN flag to foster peace in the world.
Through the generosity of such countries as Canada, Demark, Japan, and others—Member States that have partnered with UNCAP and contributed training expertise, equipment, funding, and other valuable resources to the programme over the last five years—the school provides standardized, mission-specific, gender-inclusive training on UN-Owned Equipment as well as familiarization on UN policies and standard operating procedures.
- Greater coordination and interoperability between troops from various nations
- Enhanced participation by women in peace operations
- Economies of scale for mission operations
- Strengthened C4ISR strategic partnerships
UNCAP training comprises hands-on experiences and in-classroom learning in the following areas:
- ICT basics including Radio communications, Satellite communications, Networking, Cyber Security and Spectrum Management
- Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies, in particular micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
- Camp security and Early Warning technologies including terrestrial radars, Sense & Warn systems
Modules are also conducted in other UN official languages, primarily in French given the substantial contributions made by French-speaking African TCCs/PCCs to peace operations.
Since graduating its first class at the end of 2016, UNCAP has expanded its pre-induction training to include dedicated trainings for ICT women in uniform and a Training-of-Trainers programme that prepares course graduates to train others in their contingents. The curriculum is updated on a regular basis to incorporate new technologies and changing requirements and standards.
Member States and Other Peacekeeping Supporters are Invited to Get Involved
The value of the contributions made by partners of the UNCAP programme cannot be overstated.
A “Triangular Partnership” model whereby TCCs/PCCs, supporting Member States and the UN Secretariat—each with an equal stake in the programme—was adopted early on as a strategy for success and sustainability. They continue to work together so UNCAP can deliver to exceed expectations and achieve optimal results:
- TCCs/PCCs commit to sending their ICT personnel to UNCAP to prepare for their deployments to peacekeeping missions. Their troops and/or police receive capacity-building training and the equipment needed to achieve interoperability in a mission environment.
- Supporting Member States contribute training expertise, equipment, funding, and other valuable resources that enhance and sustain the programme.
- The UN Secretariat facilitates, plans and manages programme implementation.
UNCAP presents various opportunities to Member States and other interested parties to enhance the professional development of uniformed personnel from Member States that serve as our UN Peacekeepers. Strengthening their performance contributes to more effective implementation of given UN-mandates and improves their safety and security. As peacekeeping work does not stop, neither should we.