The Rwandan contingent for the region’s upcoming joint Field Training Exercise is upbeat on joining other armies, especially in offering humanitarian assistance to locals in the areas the exercise will take place.
Major Cyuma Mabano leads the 133-strong Rwandan contingent that left Gako Military Academy early yesterday on their journey to Kitgum district, northern Uganda where they will participate in Exercise “Natural Fire 10” (NF 10).
“Our mission will be to participate in exercise Natural Fire 10, fulfil the set objectives in reference to EAC agreements – and harmonize with other partner states’ armies,” Maj. Mabano told The New Times.
Armies of the five member states of the East African Community (EAC) together with the US Africa Command (US AFRICOM) will hold the joint exercise in Kitgum district from October16 – 25.
Mabano also sounded optimistic on what he says was the rapidly increasing EAC framework of military cooperation.
“It is broadening and expanding – we are now much more integrated and we are learning many things from the others. For example, we use a gun known as the AK 47, and the Kenyan army uses the G3 – we will handle and fire their weapons and likewise, they will use ours,” said Mabano.
The RDF contingent was joined by the Burundian contingent at Gako where they set off together in the same convoy.
The exercise is the latest Joint Training Exercise aimed at promoting cooperation in defence within the bloc.
The nine-day event, hosted by Uganda, follows others hosted by Tanzania and Rwanda, all in the framework of promoting cooperation in defence within the bloc.
The most recent operation “Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro,” in Tanzania, was under the themes of Counterterrorism, Peace Support Operations and Disaster Management.
In June, Rwanda hosted the EAC military sports and culture week – another event in a series of activities to be conducted by the EAC this year to commemorate the bloc’s 10th Anniversary.
Work on transforming the bloc’s MoU on Cooperation in Defence into a protocol are expected to be completed within the next six months.
Currently, there exists four areas of military cooperation – training; joint operations; technical assistance; and visits (including sporting exchanges and range competitions as well as visits by the Chiefs of Defence) and exchanges of information.
EAC partner states have opened up their training facilities to each other’s personnel and have harmonized their training calendars.
Several senior officers from all EAC countries are training jointly in the Defence Staff College and the National Defence College in Karen, Kenya, in Tanzania’s Staff College in Monduli, and in Uganda’s Senior Command and Staff College in Kimaka.
All partner states have also posted Directing Staff and Instructors to each other’s training institutions.