When troops from all over Africa move into position for the opening gambits of the field training exercise marking the end of the AU’s Amani Africa 11 training cycle in late October at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) it will be the realisation of a just on nine million US dollar spend.
The training cycle started in 2012 and its conclusion this year will also see the long-awaited African Standby Force (ASF) become a reality, AU liaison officer to SADC Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, told a media sensitisation workshop on the field training exercise in Pretoria this week.
Delegates to the three day event also heard that ASF will “not be an African army”. Explaining the ASF Colonel Cheik Dembele said it would comprise elements from the various economic communities on the continent.
“These will be on standby and ready for mobilisation in the event a decision is taken by the AU to send a force into a particular area or country,” he said.
Bah told delegates the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) would become part of the ASF. This means ACIRC, which SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo said would be operational this month, effectively has a shelf life of six months if the December 2015 deadline for operationalisation is adhered to.
About 4,000 troops from groupings including SADC, as hosts; ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States), ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), NARC (North African Regional Capability) and EASF (Eastern Africa Standby Force) will move onto the training areas at Lohathla in Northern Cape for the exercise which starts on October 19 and ends on November 7.
The exercise has eight objectives Dr Sayibu Gariba of the Amani Africa 11 core planning team told the workshop.
These are: engaging the AU Peace and Security Council to mandate a rapid deployment capability (RDC); practice the deployment and employment of the RDC of the ASF as a start-up operation; manage the transition of RDC to a full multi-dimensional peace support operation (PSO); exercise mission management for a PSO; enhance the police and civilian capacities of the ASF in planning and conducting PSOs mandated by the AU; validate policies and procedures of the ASF and evaluate mission sustainability and support capabilities of the ASF.
Another important objective is to build capacity and ensure better inter-operability between various ASF components at all levels to test C3IS and strategic lift capabilities.