ARUSHA – Defence Chiefs representing the five East African Community (EAC) partner states, yesterday gathered in Monduli, Tanzania, to witness the progress of the ongoing joint East African military field exercise.
The exercise code named “Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro 2009” which ends today, brought together 1,500 soldiers with each partner state — apart from Burundi — contributing 333 personnel.
The inspection, led by Rwanda’s Minister of Defence, Gen Marcel Gatsinzi started with a field demonstration by the joint forces on how to handle an air crash situation.
A dark thick smoke rising from a blast orchestrated by the forces filled the air at the Arusha airport as the soldiers carried out medical aid and evacuation measures, usually taken when such an accident occurs.
Later, the delegation visited the exercise’s general headquarters from where the Minister and the senior officers were briefed on the ongoing military activities like several Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) projects the forces have carried out.
Food supplies totalling to 300 tonnes were distributed in parts of Tanga region and Arusha while several clinics and school blocks were built for neighbouring communities.
After a brief on the activities, Gatsinzi and the officers visited each of the forces in their respective military bases from where they were taken around by the respective commanding officers of the forces.
At Arkatani, one of the humanitarian aid centres of the exercise, Gatsinzi inaugurated two new classroom blocks worth $ 41,000 built by the forces and a dispensary worth $45,000 also built by the armies.
As a sign of appreciation to the joint forces for the assistance rendered to them, the Masai communities in Arkatani donated a traditional Masai blanket (shuka) to each head of the defence forces.
The ‘Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro 2009’ field training exercise will be officially closed today by Gen Gatsinzi with participants expected to head back to their respective countries on Saturday.