African Standby Force starts its first military exercises

African Union’s new multinational standby force starts training for first time

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Ugandan soldiers belonging to the African Union Mission in Somalia look on during a ceremony to welcome Ethiopia into the African Union peace keeping mission in Somalia.

Updated Oct 21, 2015

The new 25,000 multinational African Union Standby Force has been gathering for training for the first time in South Africa with the aim of preparing by January to react to crises accross Africa.

The force will be establishing five brigades each of which will come from one of Africa's major regional groups – ECOMOG in West Africa, SADC in southern Africa, ECCAS in central Africa, EASF in the east and NARC in the north.

The logistical base of the African Standby Force (ASF) will be located in Douala, Cameroon, following a deal signed last week.

Training has also started at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatla after an opening ceremony last Monday.

Five thousand military and police officers will be in the field where ASF will intervene in a fictional country as part of exercise.

The operation, which will continue until Nov. 5, is designed to evaluate how ready the force is to react crises and moniter peacekeeping missons wherever conflicts arise.

The training session should have been held in Lesotho in 2014 but was delayed because of security concerns in the small south African country.

An Africa Standby Force has been set up as part of the "African solutions for African problems" mission intended to replace peacekepping forces and missions from outside Africa.

According to an Ethiopian based researcher for the Institute of Security Studies, Hallelujah Lulie, in the last 15 years The African Union has become more willing to intervene in countries suffering from conflicts or crises.

"The primary task of these groups is to train and keep the troops ready at any time when they are called to serve," said Teferra Shiawl-Kidanekal, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Research in Addis Ababa and an expert on African security policy.

He said that "If the United Nations or the African Union require a number of battalions, they will send a request to the countries concerned and the countries will draw from these trained and ready forces to be deployed into that mission area."

Exercise director, retired Nigerian Major General Samaila Iliya, is optimistic that the exercise called Amani Africa Two will be the beginning of the ASF's ability to respond to crisis situations.

He told DW "The forces will be on standby and can be assembled at any time to intervene on the orders of the African Union's Peace and Security Council."

TRTWorld and agencies