East Africa starts training rapid reaction force as Somalia joins

Joint training started. FILE PHOTO

NAIROBI, Kenya - Troops from East African countries have been committed to mandatory training that will enhance their preparedness for threats, with the United Nations Service Center taking charge in Uganda, where trainees will undergo rigorous exercises to improve their ability to respond to threats.

The troops are selected from 10 countries across the region which has struggled to battle violent extremism for a while. The region particularly, is facing threats from the Al-Shabaab group which is fighting to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia.

Personnel from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda participated in the training that aims to create synergies and enhance the knowledge and understanding of peace support mission planning, said the East African Standby Force [EASF] in a statement.

"We cannot fulfill our mandate of enhancing peace and security without an effective planning entity for our region," said Uganda's Chief of Staff of the Air Force Brig. David Gonyi.

According to him, the training will prepare member countries to respond to terrorism and electoral violence with disaster management also lined up as one of the areas of interest. Currently, the region is struggling both with terrorism and political instability.

"There is no doubt that the commitment given to this learning process is a clear testimony that capacity building and enhancement have a place they deserve in Africa and the region," Gonyi said.

The EASF, which consists of military, police, and civilian components, was established to provide the capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention, peace support and stability operations, and peace enforcement.

Presently, a number of soldiers are in neighboring Somalia for a peacekeeping mission under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] funded by international partners. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Djibouti have all contributed soldiers to the Horn of Africa nation who are helping in taming Al-Shabaab.

Somalia applied recently to be admitted to East Africa Community [EAC] but the member states are yet to ratify the request which has already been approved by the Council of Ministers. Currently, the EAC has dispatched troops to Eastern DR Congo where they are helping to neutralize M23 rebels.


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