The growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa are reasons for African countries to speed up full operational capability (FOC) efforts for regional standby brigades (RSBs) as components of the African Standby Force (ASF).
This is one of the continental security concerns and issues addressed in the March activities bulletin of the continental body’s Peace and Security Council (PSC).
Updating operationalisation of the ASF the bulletin notes it was the result of a need for an African capacity to “swiftly and effectively respond to the plethora of peace and security challenges facing the continent”.
Progress has been made by regional economic communities (RECs) and RMs (regional mechanisms) with FOC reported by EASF (East African Standby Force), FOMAC (Central African Multinational Force), NARC (North African Regional Capability) and SADC (Southern African Development Community). This, the bulletin has it, should encourages other RECs /RMs and AU member countries to “scale up” efforts to make their RSBs fully operational.
The PSC adds there is an urgent need – presumably for the ASF to become a reality – adding memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between the AU and RECs/RMs was “key to deployment and employment of the ASF”.
The PSC further “stressed the need for the AU Commission to expedite establishment of a counter-terrorism special unit in the ASF”. Once up and operational this unit can be deployed – on request from an “affected member state and REC/RM” – with PSC approval.
In closing, the bulletin underlines the need for the AU Commission to conduct “a lesson learning exercise” on the SADC deployments in Lesotho (SAPMIL) and Mozambique (SAMIM).