TANZANIA - Over 1500 defence forces drawn from partner states of the East African Community (EAC), are currently taking part in the region’s first ever military Field Training Exercise, in Tanzania.
All member states save for Burundi have contributed 333 personnel to the operation code named “Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro 2009” which started on the 3rd of September, ending on the 26th.
The exercise will gauge the combined forces capability in responding to disasters and to share knowledge on the region’s challenges; in civil-military cooperation activities for peace support operations, counter-terrorism and disaster management.
The armies will also provide medical, veterinary and infrastructure rehabilitation services to neighbouring communities.
The 333 Rwanda Defence Forces contingent led by Lt Col. Vincent Gatama, traveled by road via Rusumo en-route to Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions were the exercise is taking place.
At the launch of the exercise, yesterday, in Monduli, RDF was represented by Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga and the Chief of Training and Operations Brig. Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura.
According to army spokesperson Maj. Jill Rutaremara, several RDF officers are holding key appointments in the exercise.
They include; Brig. Gen. Ephrem Rurangwa, Colonels - George Rwigamba and Dennis Rutaha; Lt. Colonels - Laurien Nkuriye, Innocent Kabandana and Jean Jacques Mupenzi, including Majors Joseph Damali, John Karega, and Emmanuel Rutebuka.
This exercise is to be fully funded by the EAC states.
According to reports, the peace support operation will take place from September 7-12, counter terrorism September 13-17, while disaster management is slated for September 18-21, with the closing ceremony being scheduled for September 23.
However, it is also reported that within the general areas of Arusha and Tanga regions, the exercise goes on until Sept. 26.
The joint exercise is being conducted under the EAC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Co-operation in Defense Matters, which also provides for EAC partner states’ armies to offer mutual assistance in disaster management and technical co-operation.
The MOU is set to be upgraded into a Protocol.