Another step on the road to making the African Union’s African Standby Force (ASF) and its rapid deployment capability reality by year-end starts on Monday with a week-long joint field assessment mission in South Africa.
South Africa put itself forward as host country for the Amani Africa ll field exercise originally to have taken place in Lesotho last October. It will now be held at the SA Army’s Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape in October/November.
The assessment mission will see planning elements from both the AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gather in Thaba Tshwane on Monday before heading to Lohathla and then returning to Thaba Tshwane to wrap up business at the end of the week.
The mission is one of a number of preparatory activities designed to lay the foundation for a successful Amani Africa ll field training exercise. The exercise aims to evaluate the state of readiness of the ASF and its rapid deployment capability to ensure full operational capability by year-end, a statement issued by the SANDF Joint Operations Division and the AU Peace and Security Department said.
Leading the assessment team will be exercise director, retired major general Samaila Iliya, supported by exercise chief of staff, Brigadier General Paulo Francisco and Rear Admiral (JG) Patrick Duze from Joint Operations.
Amani Africa ll will pave the way for implementation of the remaining activities to complete the exercise cycle which falls under SADC control.
When the ASF is finally operational, it will consist of standby arrangements within Africa’s five sub-regions, composed of multi-dimensional capabilities, including military, police and civilian, on standby in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment.
This field training exercise will be significant in evaluating the readiness of the ASF to respond swiftly to conflicts without being hampered by political and instrumental burdens.
Last year the SA National Defence Force’s annual force preparation exercise Seboka at Lohatla took on a different image when it became South Africa’s most visible training preparation yet for the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), a standby force to serve until such time as the long-awaited ASF can be mobilised and deployed.
Indications are the South African exercise will focus on airlift and communication capabilities to and from AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. There are also expected to be smaller tactical exercises with objectives put to troops on the ground during which command and control of forces as well as inter-operability between forces from different countries will be tested.
The phrase “Amani Africa” means “peace in Africa” in Kiswahili and is the over-arching name given to exercises aimed at developing the ASF to full operational capability.