A Ugandan General with extensive experience in combined African military operations says far greater joint training by armies and intelligence sharing would enormously enhance military effectiveness.
Major General Geoffrey Muheesi, who was the Deputy Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until December last year, said it is vital that African armies be able to blend operations. Joint exercises and training would also serve to build trust, said the General who is waiting for a new command since the end of his tenure at AMISOM.
Muheesi was on a number of panels during the recent African Security and Counter-Terrorism Summit in London.
Muheesi said that in AMISOM the Ugandans, Kenyans, and Ethiopians can merge operations, but not with the Burundians. He puts this down to the difference in training and doctrine between African Anglophone and Francophone countries. “It is all about training and exercising together,” he said.
Far greater effectiveness in preparing African militaries could also come about as a result of improving the analysis of threats. “How we analyse our threats has a problem,” as there is not enough sharing of information with regional partners, he said.
“No enemy stands alone” and it is often the case that in African conflicts, neighbours support the enemy of another country in the region. Sharing information with regional partners stands to change the fighting on the ground, he said.
General Muheesi said there were significant gains by AMISOM against Al Shabaab last year, despite a surge in incidents. In October last year AMISOM drove Al Shabaab out of the coastal town of Barawa. He said the Somali security network is increasingly effective and will ultimately be able to defeat Al Shababab. One indication of the success of AMISOM and that of the Somali forces is the rising number of defections from Al Shabaab.
Muheesi has also served in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and was part of the guerrilla army that overthrew the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1979.
Muheesi said the current problems of the Nigerian army in tackling Boko Haram are, in part, a political problem that stems from the military attracting people who want to make money rather than defend their country.