The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and will next year exercise their regional standby brigades for the first time.
The “virtual” brigades are part of the African Standby Force (ASF) created earlier this decade to provide the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council a military capability.
Each of Africa`s five development regions were tasked with creating a brigade, consisting of a small permanent staff and planning element. This headquarters maintains a list of regional units and personnel made available by member states for deployment as and when required.
The ASF has been a work-in-progress since 2003 and was scheduled to have an initial operational capability in 2005. Six scenarios under which the brigades would deploy were contemplated:
· Scenario 1 — AU/Regional military advice to a political mission.
· Scenario 2 — AU/Regional observer mission co-deployed with a UN mission.
· Scenario 3 — Stand alone AU/Regional observer mission.
· Scenario 4 — AU/Regional peacekeeping force (PKF) for Chapter VI and preventive deployment missions.
· Scenario 5 — AU PKF for complex multidimensional PK mission with low-level spoilers (a feature of many current conflicts).
· Scenario 6 — AU intervention – e.g. genocide situations where international community does not act promptly.
By 30 June 2005 all five brigades were meant to have had the ability to manage Scenario 1 and 2 missions, and establish a standby reinforcement system to manage Scenario 3 missions. The SADC, ECOWAS and the East African brigade reportedly made the deadline.
During Phase 2, the period up to 30 June 2010, the regions are meant to develop “the capacity to manage up to Scenario 5 missions,” according to a May 2003 planning document. Regions, at the same time, “should try to develop a standby brigade in this period, and those with existing brigades should increase their rapid deployment capability.”
The SADC has scheduled “Exercise Golfinho” for September next year “to exercise the SADC brigade capability.” The exercise is scheduled to last from 1 to 26 September and will be held in South Africa, A command post exercise will precede it in Mozambique in April.
Janes Defence Weekly meanwhile reports that ECOWAS troops will hold a 10-day, US3 million, field exercise in Burkina Faso in June 2009.
The exercise will involve an estimated 1 250 troops from all 15 member states and will allow the force to test its “logistic concept and standard operating procedure.”