Following its one and only field training exercise, the rapid deployment capability of the African Standby Force (ASF) has been declared ready to go and will in all likelihood deploy as early as next year.
The African Union’s (AU’s) Amani Africa II field training exercise concluded at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape on Sunday. The exercise itself finished on Friday but was extended ceremonially to Sunday to allow for a closing ceremony attended by President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing soldiers who took part in the exercise as well as the Zimbabwean defence minister, ministers from AU countries who participated in Amani Africa II, senior AU personnel and representatives of the diplomatic corps, Zuma said the exercise was “a historic one that is moving Africa forward in the pursuit of peace, stability and security”.
“This exercise demonstrates Africa is serious about peace and the continent is also serious about investing in peace. We often proclaim we want African solutions to African problems. Through this exercise we are demonstrating that readiness to solve our problems in the continent.
“We are indeed proud to proclaim Amani Africa II has been a tremendous success,” he said, adding the continent has “taken a significant step forward in bringing the ASF and its rapid deployment capability into operation”.
“We have committed ourselves to silencing the guns on our continent by 2020, in alignment with our commitment to Agenda 2030 but we still need to be prepared to effectively intervene in crisis situations to stabilise our countries when the need and the call arises.
“The reality is some countries on our beloved continent are still experiencing conflict, strife and war. The people of the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali, Libya, Somalia and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo still live in the hope of achieving peace.
“We therefore have a duty as the leadership of the continent to assist sister countries to achieve peace. That is what makes this exercise so important.
“It is gratifying that the five regions of our continent were represented at this exercise through regional economic communities (RECs) and their brigades.
“SADC, the East Africa Standby Force, North Africa Regional Command, ECOWAS and the volunteering nations of ACIRC (African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises) all participated in this historic exercise, the first of its kind.
“Apart from testing harmonisation, the exercise has gone a long way towards strengthening co-operation between the AU and the regional mechanisms for the purposes of future peacekeeping operations.
“This exercise is also unique in that it practised the multi-dimensional nature of peace support operations (PSOs) bringing together the military, police and civilian elements in an integrated approach.
“In this regard, we congratulate the countries and regions involved in this exercise for availing the necessary resources and assets.
“We need to do more to mobilise domestic resources to fund and capacitate our peace support operations. Identifying and raising our own funds will ensure we enhance the sustainability of our missions while at the same time ensuring ownership and self-reliance,” Zuma, who is Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, said.
Two fatalities – both South African – were reported during the field training exercise. SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke said Sergeant Sello Modisane of 21 SA Infantry Battalion was shot and died while taking part in an ambush component of the exercise and David Motuang (no rank or unit given) was killed in a car crash.
The command cadre of Amani Africa II will now compile a report for submission to an extraordinary meeting of the AU special technical committee of defence, safety and security. The meeting will be held in January 2016 with recommendations going to next year’s AU summit on the state of readiness and “how to constantly enhance the ASF and its rapid deployment capability to effectively address the prevailing nature of security threats on the continent,” SAnews reported.
Consisting of brigades from the five continental blocs — Economic Community of West Africa States, East African Community, North African Regional Capability and Southern African Development Community — the 25 000-strong multinational force will help with immediate and effective responses to crises arising in Africa. Its logistics headquarters will be located in the Cameroon city of Douala.
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