The need to address pertinent issues necessary to fast-track and operationalise the long awaited Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) will be top on the agenda during a three-day security meeting which gets underway in Kigali.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the three-day meeting to be attended by peace and security leaders in the eastern Africa region is the 10th extraordinary meeting of the Eastern Africa Chiefs of Defence and Security.
For the past 10 years, the region has been preparing a multidimensional force by building capacity in the military, police and civilian components to address common security threats and challenges.
“EASF is expected to attain Full Operational Capability (FOC) by the end of this year and subsequently participate in the ongoing Peace Support Operations in the region,” reads part of a statement.
During the meeting, Rwanda will take over the chair of the Council of Ministers of Defence and Security and the Committee of Eastern Africa Chiefs of Defence Staff from Kenya.
Call for faster progress
Established in 2004 with the mandate to enhance regional peace and security, EASF draws its membership from 10 countries. They include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Katumba Wamala, called for the fast-tracking of EASF to help tackle varying security challenges.
He said there was need to get started and then gradually sort out the challenges as they emerge.
Previously, the EASF which is a constituent organisation of the African Standby Force (ASF), a pan-African peacekeeping unit under the African Union, in its 2010-2015 strategic plan, envisaged the creation of regional multi-dimensional forces to maintain peace in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
EASF is one of the five regional multi-dimensional forces. Others include; the Northern Standby Brigade (NARC), Western Africa Standby Brigade (ECOWAS), Central African Standby Brigade (ECCAS), and the Southern Africa Standby Brigade (SADC).
In March, the EASF signed two MoUs with two regional training institutions – the Sudan Peace Operations Training Centre, and the Ethiopian Police University College – to strengthen its training pillars.
Previously, EASF also signed similar agreements with the International Peace Support Training Centre, and the Musanze-based Rwandan Peace Academy (RPA).