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Africa’s first emergency force aiming for operational status

December 31, 2015 - AFRICAN UNION

The African Union (AU) plans to have its African Standby Force (ASF) operational by the end of 2015 to tackle the continent's bloodletting. Recent ASF military exercises boosts optimism that the project is moving forward, despite its problems.

The need for an effective peacekeeping operation becomes more urgent by the day as jihadist activity has surged while Africa's ethnic and territorial conflicts show no sign of shrinking in number or scale. Seven of the world's bloodiest conflicts are in Africa, according to a recent analysis.

The analysis, from Le Monde Diplomatique in March 2015, also observed that the AU's 54 countries have limited technical capabilities and the lack of a common vision of peace. The setbacks to the full-fledged peacekeeping operation envisioned by the Addis Ababa-based bloc include underfunding and the differing priorities and sometimes conflicting interests of the nations in each brigade. The analysis sounded a pessimistic note, reporting that the ASF is supposed to reach full strength by the end of 2015 but the brigades have not been properly established, the logistics base in Cameroon has not been built and the issue of finance has yet to be resolved.

The training exercises, involving some 5,000 troops, took place in October at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatla. The new headquarters will be in Douala, Cameroon.

In 2004 the African Union established a Peace and Security Council (PSC) to steer policy, and a Military Staff Committee to set up peacekeeping brigades in each of Africa's five major regions. The plan included mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution. The AU plan is to have each of the continent's five regions with its own peacekeeping brigade on standby.

Afirca's own UN (Le Monde Diplomatique(March 2015)

Enhancing the Efficiency of the African Standby Force (International Relations and Security Network 14 Oct 2014)

African Standby Force starts first military exercises (BBC 19 Oct 2015)

African Standby Force holds first military exercise (DW 19 Oct 2015)

African Standby Force starts first military exercises (BBC 19 Oct 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-11-25