Cameroon has received the first of two consignments of military equipment including armoured personnel carriers, 4x4s, trailers, and personal protective equipment for its troops taking part in peacekeeping efforts in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).
Defence Minister Delegate Joseph Beti Assomo officially received the equipment Tuesday 11 May in a ceremony at the 201 Airbase in the economic capital Douala.
The consignment includes nine Arquus (ACMAT) Bastion armoured personnel carriers, 35 trailers, 24 heavy duty generator sets, and about 45 vehicles including Land Cruiser ambulance and utility vehicles.
The delivery is part of a big order which will be completed in the near future, according to Groupe OMP Solutions, the French company which has been supplying equipment for Cameroon’s military since December 2014 and which is also a major partner in offering services for UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
Cameroon has more than 1 000 peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, under the umbrella of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSCA). They are deployed in three CAR towns namely, Bossangoa, Bouar and the capital Bangui.
“In order to honour Cameroon’s commitment to the international community, particularly the UN peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces [Paul Biya], decided to renew the entire equipment pool of the Cameroonian contingent deployed to MINUSCA,” Assomo said.
“In the CAR theatre, it became crucial to replace our equipment – most of which had reached the end of their life cycle – due to wear and tear as well as the constraints of rough operational environments and uninterrupted use. It was also imperative to comply with the new UN guideline which requires the establishment of a second mechanized company of the infantry battalion to increase the operational capabilities of our entire contingent and to improve the living and working conditions of our soldiers,” he added.
Purchase of the equipment was done by OMP Solutions with funds from the government of Cameroon, Assomo stated, adding that just about 70% of the equipment have arrived in the country, with more expected soon. For example, 24 more Bastion vehicles are expected, General Dominique Trinquand, an official of OMP Solutions, confirmed.
Cameroon sent its 7th contingent of peacekeepers to CAR in September last year. The 700 soldiers and 290 gendarmes and police officers are expected to be in the country for one year, before they return home for another contingent to take over.
Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalions (BIR) received 15 Bastions in late 2017 and deployed them to the Far North for operations against Boko Haram militants. The vehicles are known as Cyclones in BIR service.