The ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) as part of the African Union Standby Force (ASF) is participating in an African Union (AU) Field Training Exercise code-named Amani Africa II, taking place in Lohatla, South Africa, from 19th October to 7th November, 2015.
Amani Africa means “Peace in Africa” in Kiswahili language. The training cycle aims to build capacities for the African Standby Force to make operationally ready by December 2015.
The ASF is composed of military, police and civilian personnel, on standby in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment enabling Africans to respond swiftly to crisis unhampered by any heavy political and instrumental burdens.
The field training exercise taking place in Lohatla, is to validate the capacity of the African Union to mandate, deploy, and employ a rapid deployment capability of the ASF, as a startup operation and to run a full multidimensional peace support operations.
One of the major objectives of the exercise is to enhance the police and civilians capacities of the ASF in planning and conducting peace support operations as mandated by the African Union. It will be conducted in two phases; scenario 6 and 5.
Starting from scenario six the exercise is to test the capacity of the AU and the ASF to rapidly deploy troops into areas of operation for peace enforcement. It will then transit to scenario five, where the mission is now transformed into full peace support operations.
The ESF will be operating from three levels. Some members of the contingent are in Addis-Ababa, as part of the Strategic Level headquarters, while others are based in Lohatla, as part of the Mission and Sector Headquarters respectively.
In a highly commendable move, the Nigerian Government through the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) provided one of its C-I30 Hercules military aircraft for the airlift of the ESF and their equipment as well as personnel of the police and civilian components from Abuja, Nigeria to South Africa on Saturday, October the 24th.
This singular act has validated the strategic lift concept of the ASF as it proved that the Continent can rely on internal resources of troops contributing countries for the deployment of men and equipment at on a very short notice.
The Amani Africa training is a simulation exercise conducted in a fictitious country called CARANA. As with other African Countries, Carana has numerous problems including political instability economic collapse, non- adherence to rule of law endemic corruption.
The Carana government also tried to perpetuate itself in power through constitutional change and by discouraging political opposition. Within this background Carana went into elections, where the ruling party dominated by the biggest ethnic group maintained its dominance. This led to demonstrations, chaos and total breakdown of law and order.
The crisis rapidly degenerated into catastrophic violence in which human rights violations took centre stage and indiscriminate killings of civilians by armed groups from both sides. The appalling humanitarian situation in Carana and its threat to international peace and security led the African Union to mandate a peace operations Mission in Carana tagged ‘AMICA’.
The Amani Africa Field Training Exercise is therefore organized to simulate the Carana situation and demonstrate the capacity of the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanism (RECs/RMs), as well as the troops contributing countries, on their readiness to deploy, enforce peace and transit to peace support operations.
ECOWAS is playing a significant role in the exercise, because of its experience in peace keeping operations around the world. The ECOWAS contingent is led by Col Morou Seidou Maiga, the Chief of Staff of the ESF, who will serve as the Head of Military Plans for the exercise.
The ESF military contingent to the exercise is led by Col. Ehimwenma Amadasun, and will be deployed alongside Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) troops from Angola and Kenya as part of the multidimensional components in Sector 3 of AMICA.
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