KIGALI - Army and Defence Spokesperson Maj. Jill Rutaremara has revealed that the Ministry of Defence has plans of converting Gako Military Academy into a larger, regional centre for training peacekeeping forces.
Speaking to The New Times, Rutaremara said that the idea had also been bought by the country’s partner in peacekeeping initiatives, the United States.
“The idea is that Gako becomes bigger so that even other regional forces can train from there,” Rutaremara noted.
“It could even train regional armies for intervention – regional intervention forces like EASBRIG can also benefit”.
“Secondly, there is an idea of having a centre for excellence where Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) will train at, Gabiro School of Infantry (GSOI) in the Eastern Province,” Maj. Rutaremara added.
His revelations came after Defence Minister Gen. James Kabarebe met Catherine Wiesner, the Principal Director of African Affairs in the Office of the US Secretary of Defence, who is here to observe training by the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program.
Wiesner and her delegation visited Gako on Monday and planned to inspect other training programmes funded by the US Department of State.
“Rwanda has been such a great example in building an indigenous peacekeeping capability and, we were talking about how to build on that, to build better capabilities in the region,” Wiesner said.
She explained that her meeting with the Kabarebe was largely about the very important role that Rwanda has played in peacekeeping in the region, particularly in Darfur and, how lessons from there can be passed on to others.
So far 22 RDF battalions have been trained under the RDF-ACOTA partnership since 2004.
ACOTA is designed to improve African ability to respond quickly to crises by providing selected militaries with the training and equipment required to execute humanitarian or peace support operations. The program is executed through AFRICOM or contracted partners.