Two high level African Union meetings this year in the wake of last November’s Amani Africa exercise have called for support in the form of troops, materiel and finance to make and keep the ACIRC (African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises) and its successor, the African Standby Force (ASF), operationally deployable.
African Union peace and security commissioner, Ambassador Smail Chergui, is reported by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) publication, SA Soldier, as having told a Pretoria meeting of defence chiefs and general staff: “The Commission is faced with severe financial constraints which have adversely affected our work, including the ASF”.
He requested nations to volunteer at their own cost and pledge capabilities to the ASF and to “consider revising the concept of self-sustainment in the light of financial constraints faced by the AU”.
Chergui told the Pretoria meeting the Amani Africa exercise, staged at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape, was evidence of the potential in planning deployments by the ASF. “The extraordinary specialised technical committee on defence, safety and security (of the AU) member states concluded the exercise was successful,” he is reported as having said.
In January this year the continental body announced the ASF has attained full operational capability but without the voluntary support of member states it was not going to be able to assist in bringing peace and stability to the continent.
An extraordinary ministers meeting of ACIRC and volunteer nations declared capabilities should be made available for at least 18 months. This is based on ACIRC’s fully operational capability.
Last month (August) saw Angola take over chairmanship of ACIRC following the Utulivu Africa II exercise in support of the rapid deployment force. The West African country succeeded South Africa which headed up ACIRC from July 2015.
ACIRC members include Angola, South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Chad and Uganda.