International DevelopmentNews

Defense ministers in Africa proposed establishing a rapid response force

East Africa––Defense chiefs from African nations met in the Ugandan capital Kampala this week to discuss regional security and defense matters facing the continent, especially in the wake international terrorism.

During the meeting on Tuesday the African defense ministers agreed to establish a precipitous reaction force that will be positioned anywhere in the region where violence erupts.

The defense chiefs agreed to meet in October this year to craft operational budget and offshoot activities as well as second officers to the African Union (AU) early warning systems.

African Union Forces in Somalia

The meeting was held under the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) Volunteer Nations, a transitional multinational initiative established in November 2013 for military interventions as and when the need arises on the African continent.

The attendees agreed on forwarding their recommendations to the African Union’s heads of state for approval.

Representatives at the meeting included defense ministers from Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, South Africa, Niger, Sudan and Uganda.

According a statement release to the press, the proposed rapid response force will be short-term pending the permanent establishment of African Standby Force (ASF) by 2018.

The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, urged the AU member countries to subsidize the peace fund to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed ACIRC.

“Key issues include strengthening voluntarism spirit, preparing your forces and resources for the deployment,” said Chergui.

“This will ensure that we demonstrate in concrete terms to our colleagues and to the international community of our commitment to sustainable peace through our own resources,” he said.

AU troops

There are numerous challenges facing the African Union, among them are funding and resources. Over the years, the continental bloc has difficulties funding its peacekeeping missions, without external support from donors like the European Union, the United Nations and the United States government.

The AU commissioner for peace security said the creation of the rapid response force prior to the ASF sends a definitive political point that Africa is committed to seeking internal solutions to its problems.

Chergui urged African nations and leaders to defend its security interests without depending on external support.

“The withdrawal of Western countries from African conflict management after the disasters encountered in Somalia in 1993 and Rwanda in 1994, strengthens the ACIRC initiative,” he added.

Also speaking during the meeting, Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s Prime Minister, reminded the one-day gathering of the serious challenges ahead of the continent.

“We are all aware of the continued insecurity and conflict that continues to plague our continent, but our resolve as a region to forge peace remains total,” he said.

Former US President Barack H. Obama

“Cumulatively, these efforts will create a more conducive environment for the advancement of our people and the fulfillment of their long-cherished dream of well-being,” he added.
Global security analysts say Africa faces a series of security challenges. These trials range from the current wave of violent extremism, internal conflicts, and natural disasters.

To date, there are deadly internal conflicts raging in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leaving thousands of civilians killed and millions more fleeing for safety.

Budgetary experts say the propose rapid response force would require at least 30 million U.S. dollars to sustain its annual operations.

Two years to leaving office, President Barack Obama, on behalf of the US, announces $550 Million African ‘Rapid Response Force’ Plans to Subsidize African Militaries in First Step.

Obama unveiled a five-year $550 million “rapid response force” plan for the continent during the third day of a summit with African heads of state in Washington on August 6, 2014.  However, since the Trump administration took power in 2016, there has been no clearly defined policy on Africa from the administration.  The lack of clearly position on Africa has left several African nations to begin repositioning bilateral commitment to other world powers, notably China and Russia.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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