South African President Jacob Zuma’s commitment to the nascent African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force is currently the major topic occupying planners in particularly the landward and airborne arms of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
While no official acknowledgement or announcement regarding South Africa’s contribution to ACIRC has been made, those in the loop point to the Commander-in-Chief having instructed his generals to make provision for a thousand strong South African contingent, with the necessary equipment, to be ready to deploy under the African Union (AU) banner in the not too distant future.
Speaking at the ACIRC summit he hosted in Pretoria in November, Zuma said while he and the AU still supported the realisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) “the time has come for African leaders to be able to act in the interim – swiftly, decisively and when needed”. As a result, the ACIRC was created as a precursor to the long-awaited ASF.
The November meeting was attended by all 10 African countries which have to date committed to the ACIRC.
South Africa’s commitment to the new force moves into an action phase at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape next month. Exercise Seboka, the annual force preparation exercise, will this year have the tasking of force preparation specifically for the ACIRC.
The official line from the SANDF on the ACIRC was given to defenceWeb by Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Director: Corporate Communication.
“Several countries under the spirit of collision (sic) of the willing committed to contribute certain element to establish this capability and pledged forces. The Republic of South Africa is amongst those countries and has since pledged a battalion size of a force. The SANDF is currently making plans and arrangements to have its contribution to ACIRC ready as may be determined by the AU,” he said in a statement.
He said he could not make public any details of the ACIRC SANDF contingent as it could compromise preparations for actual deployment.
Currently, South Africa along with Algeria, Angola, Chad, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda have all committed troops and equipment to the ACIRC.
Addressing the UN Security Council late last month on partnerships to improve peacekeeping between the world body and its African counterpart, Ambassador Antonio Tete, AU permanent observer at the UN, said: “The establishment of ACIRC will significantly strengthen both the speed of our response to emergency situations and its robustness”.