The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

Clinton O’Neill appointed AFM Commander, Edric Zahra appointed Deputy Commander

Tuesday, 28 June 2022, 12:57 Last update: about 3 months ago

Colonel Clinton O’Neill has been appointed as the new Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, with Colonel Edric Zahra being appointed as Deputy Commander.

The news was announced by the Home Affairs Ministry, with the appointment being made formally by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri on Tuesday.

Camilleri augured O’Neill and Zahra for their appointment, and also thanked the previous AFM Commander Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi for his service to the AFM in recent years.

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O’Neill joined the AFM in 1992, and was commissioned as an officer at the grade of Second Lieutenant in 1994.  Prior to that he served for two years with the Air Traffic Services and was also a Sergeant Pilot with the Air Squadron.

O’Neill is an Information Technology graduate, and also holds qualifications in International Maritime Law.

He attended two infantry training schools in Italy and the United States between 1995 and 1997, and in 1999 successfully completed a Basic Staff Training Course in the UK. In 2000 and 2010, O’Neill attended courses and achieved specific qualifications in the theory of maritime search and rescue planning with the US coastguard.

He also attended a Combined Strategic Intelligence Training Programme (CSITP) with the Defence Intelligence Agency in Washington DC.

His experience and training as a pilot means that he can fly any aircraft which the AFM currently has in its composition. 

In 2010 O’Neill was presented with the Long and Efficient Service medal after 18 years of service, along with a clasp for the same medal in 2017.  He received the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika in 2013 in the name of the members of the Air Wing.

He served as a pilot in the Air Wing and as a Staff Officer in the Operations Branch in Luqa, and served overseas on three occasions: in Senegal, Israel, and Libya.  He was also stationed in Lampedusa and Sicily as a Liaison Officer in Joint Operation Nettuno.

He was subsequently appointed as Commanding Officer of the Operations Squad, Chief Commander of the Air Wing, and Deputy Chief Commander of the AFM.  This led to him being promoted to the rank of Colonel in 2016.

He is a lecturer at the Maritime Safety and Security Training Centre (MSSTC) and is part of FRONTEX and represents Malta in a number of EU and International Maritime Organisation forums.

O’Neill’s deputy, Edric Zahra has been in the Armed Forces since 1999 and attended various courses abroad, including a formational course with the US Marine Corps in Virginia and then an infantry course with the US Marine Corps where he was classified amongst the top 10 students.

 He has attended training in various academies in the US, Germany, and Greece on ship boarding techniques, peacekeeping, terrorism, and maritime enforcement amongst others.

In 23 years of service with the AFM, Zahra occupied various high ranking roles with the First Regiment – where he was Platoon Commander of C Company, the Rapid Deployment Team, and the P61 patrol boat.  For the last five years, he commanded the First Regiment.

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