ASF too small: ISS


The African Union Standby Force (ASF) is too small, judged against the current requirement. That’s the message in the ISS Today.

ISS senior researcher on peace missions, Captain (Navy) Johan Potgieter (Rtd), says the Policy Framework for the Establishment of the ASF foresees the creation by next year of five regional brigades of about 5000 personnel each, consisting of military, police and civilians elements and with the ability to deploy into a complex multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation.

Potgieter notes this means a force with a total strength of about 25 000 personnel. He adds the AU has since asked that the police components be considerably increased. “The total force that Africa is thus preparing should be about 40 000.”

He says most regions “are well on their way to achieve the 2010 objectives, and have even designed for reserve/rotation capacity…” He questions whether this is enough.

“There are currently about 92 557 UN peacekeepers in Africa, consisting of 66 100 military, 10 757 police and 15 700 civilians in six missions, of which Africa provides about 40%.

“The requested force expansion of up to 16 000 for the UN/AU hybrid mission in Somalia, which currently has 4300 personnel, will push the total peacekeeping requirement in Africa to more than 99 000.

“In accordance with the objectives of the ASF Africa will thus only provide less than 50% – in the first rotation with little spare for subsequent deployments.

Africa troop contributing countries are nevertheless managing somehow by returning deployed contingents after only one rotation. This is not sustainable as the worldwide norm for deployment frequency is one in four (and even one in six),” Potgieter avers.

“This implies that if Africa wants to provide only 50% of the required forces continuously, it will need a military and police force components of about 154 000 – (83% of 99 000÷2×4=154 000) trained or under training.

“But is this possible? Can Africa mobilise sufficient personnel?

“Large parts of the about 4 million of the military & gendarmerie capability for various reasons cannot participate in peacekeeping operations, because they do not comply to specifications or some force components cannot be utilised in peacekeeping.

“With the political will to collaborative regional security and the willingness to reconfiguration national contingents, in accordance with peacekeeping`s force requirements, it should be possible,” Potgieter says.  

Pic: Zambian soldiers on parade.