The second of three Southern African Development Community (SADC) planning conferences ahead of the regional bloc taking up position on the AU African Standby Force (ASF) roster in January next year was held recently in Malawi.
The first conference ahead of the SADC Standby Force Command Post Exercise (CPX) named Exercise Umodzi, was held in December with the third and final preparation conference set for July.
The conferences and subsequent CPX are, according to an SADC publication, part and parcel of the realisation and operational deployment of the AU mandated African Standby Force (ASF).
The CPX will be held at the Malawi Armed Forces College (MAFCO) in Salima, 130 km from Lilongwe, from October 1 to 18 and will be the final preparation component for SADC ahead of the regional bloc going onto the ASF roster in January 2019.
The second regional block pre-CPX conference saw extensive discussions on firming up the exercise as well as finalisation of documentation and a detailed CPX programme.
“Member states taking part finalised the exercise outline, scenario, instructions, communication action plan, drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with amendments and a roadmap of activities ahead of the CPX,” the publication said, adding finalised drafts will be tabled at next month’s final CPX planning conference .
“Approval to conduct a CPX is subsequent to attainment of Full Operational Capability (FOC) of the ASF and further recommendation by the ninth AU Ministerial Specialised Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS). This committee recommended the continental standby force should be rostered on a six-monthly rotational basis from January 2017 to make peace and security capabilities available to the entire African continent as part of its conflict resolution architecture.”
“This decision will see the SADC Standby Force (SF) assume its roster duties from 1 January to 30 June 2019.
“The CPX will enable the SADC SF to prepare for assumption of its responsibility to provide the AU with capabilities to respond to conflicts through the deployment of multi- dimensional peacekeeping forces and to undertake interventions,” Inside SADC reported.
The CPX will exercise a multi-dimensional force and sector headquarters on planning and conduct of integrated missions in peace support operations.
“The Exercise,” according to the publication, “will be a platform for learning, where experienced and eminent persons from SADC will mentor and advise participants on how best to go about a given situation while evaluators will ensure objectivity in collection, analysis and reporting of observations and lessons learnt”.
Angola, Botswana, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe were represented at the planning conference.