Minister of Defence Ron Mark has today announced Major General Evan Williams of the New Zealand Defence Force has been selected as the commander of a significant, longstanding peacekeeping mission in the Middle East.
In December, Major General Williams takes over as Force Commander for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.
“The MFO is an important deployment for New Zealand. Since its inception in 1982, New Zealand has consistently maintained a presence in this international peacekeeping mission, and we currently have 28 Defence Force personnel deployed there,” says Ron Mark.
“The Government recognises that what happens in this region has a global impact and it is important to remain engaged and demonstrate leadership where we can.
“As MFO Force Commander, Major General Williams will lead approximately 1150 military personnel from 13 countries. The MFO’s mission is to preserve peace in the Sinai Peninsula and uphold the 1979 Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. In recent years, it has taken on increasing importance in terms of providing stability and a multinational military presence in the Sinai region following extremist activity.
“I am delighted that Major General Williams has been approved as the Force Commander for the MFO.
“He has served as an exemplary officer in the New Zealand Army for the past 30 years. I have confidence that he will lead the MFO with mana and be an outstanding representative of New Zealand’s values and culture.
Major General Williams said he was honoured to be selected for the position.
“I served in the MFO as the Military Assistant to the Force Commander in the 1990s, and have great respect for the mission, its objectives, and the range of partners who are working together in what has become a model of international cooperation in a complex environment”.
Major General Williams’ most recent role was Deputy Chief of Army, and he has had a long and varied career which includes service in the MFO, Belize, Bosnia, East Timor, Banda Aceh and Afghanistan. He replaces Major General Simon Stuart of Australia, who has been in the role since 2017.
New Zealand has held the position of Force Commander twice before — Major General Don McIvor in 1989-1991 and Major General Warren Whiting in 2010-2014.