EAC field training exercise consolidated bloc security efforts

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The just ended East African Community (EAC) Exercise Ushirikiano Imara in Rwanda saw member states fine tune skills in peace support operations (PSOs), counter piracy and terrorism as well as disaster management.

Speaking at an end of exercise parade, Rwandan Defence Minister Juvenal Marizamunda is reported by the Kenyan Defence Ministry as saying Ushirikiano Imara 2024 was “testament of our shared determination and enhanced inter-operability in consolidation of security efforts, which will see a strengthened trust and friendship among the member states”.

The eight EAC member states are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The two week-long exercise, the thirteenth Ushirikiano Imara, saw air, land and maritime elements of EAC defence forces exercising alongside police and civilian organisations to improve reaction to security challenges in the East African bloc.

The annual exercise aims to enhance readiness, foster co-operation and equip participants with the necessary skills to maintain peace and security with the rider of responding to complex and multidimensional security challenges, the Kenyan Defence Ministry reported at an end of exercise parade.

The Rwandan Defence Ministry reports Marizamunda as saying “through integrated exercises, we have not only enhanced operational efficiency but also strengthened bonds of trust and friendship among our national security institutions including military, police, and civilian components”.

“This exercise has reinforced the concept that through collaboration and mutual support, we can address threats to regional security, peace and stability”.

The 2024 iteration of Ushirikiano Imara was based on Kangoma, a hypothetical East African state, affected by what exercise planners termed “a political disaster”. This allowed for peace support operations, disaster management as well as counter piracy and terrorism scenarios.

Exercise Director, Major General Andrew Kagame, is reported as saying joint operations during the exercise simulated real world scenarios. This made for a true test of forces’ readiness and identified areas for improvement. According to him, the exercise enhanced inter-operability, “ensuring seamless operation as a unified force in times of need”.

EAC Secretary General Veronica Nduva told the end of exercise parade peace, unity and stability are essential in defending regional common interests. She further pointed out the necessity to find lasting solutions to regional problems – even where international matters were concerned.

Neither the host country’s defence ministry nor its Kenyan counterpart provided information on the number of troops and other military personnel activated as well as land-based equipment, airborne and maritime platforms.