Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, has welcomed an AU Summit resolution on behalf of Cabinet to establish “a united and functioning single military by year-end”.
He was referring to the long-awaited realisation of the African Standby Force (ASF), an AU initiative that takes another step forward at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape later this year.
The Amani Africa 11 field training exercise is set down for Lohathla from October 19 to November 7 as another chapter in making the ASF operational, which the AU maintains it will be by year-end.
A number of preparatory meetings have been held in South Africa, Zimbabwe at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to finalise the exercise with the latest underway – regarding logistic aspects – underway in Kimberley this weekend.
With around 5,000 troops expected to take part the exercise looks set to be the single largest military exercise in South Africa since democracy 21 years ago.
African regional organisations including Southern African Development Community (SADC) as the main force, with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), EASF (East Africa Standby Force) and ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) will contribute troops and equipment for Amani Africa, a Kiswahili phrase meaning “peace in Africa”.
The AU field training exercise will also take the place of the annual SA Army’s Exercise Seboka this year. Last year this annual force preparedness exercise was held but was rejigged to be an exercise for the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force, a forerunner to the AU’s African Standby Force (ASF) with South Africa currently the leading proponent and contributor.