KITGUM -The EAC joint military exercise code-named Natural Fire 10 (NF 10) officially kicked off yesterday in Kitgum, northern Uganda at a function that was led by Ugandan Minister of Defence, Dr Crispus Kiyonga.
Natural Fire 10 is a regional military exercise involving the five East African partner states and their partners from the United States Army under the US Africa Command.
In his speech, Kiyonga said that the commencement of the exercise was yet another milestone in the integration process of the region.
“Natural fire 10 marks yet another important milestone in the long-held desire of the peoples of our region to integrate,” he said.
The Minister noted that defence cooperation was an appropriate addition to the integration agenda and a necessity and critical component in the integration efforts.
“Peace and security are prerequisite for the development of the region,” he underscored before declaring the 10-day exercise open.
“This exercise will improve the capacity of East African Community’s Armed Forces as well as humanitarian assistance to Ugandan people, especially those in Kitgum”, said Beatrice Kiraso, Deputy Secretary General of EAC in charge of the Political Federation.
Armed forces from Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States opened the exercise with a ceremony attended by senior military officials from each country.
The opening ceremony was attended by senior military officials from each country and the exercise will focus on humanitarian and civic assistance, disaster relief and regional security.
Speaking at the occasion, Gen Aronda Nyakayirima, Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, stressed that NF 10, is another effort to maintain regional peace and security and enhancing preparedness and response to natural disasters.
Brig General Norbert Kalimba, Rwanda’s defence attaché to the EAC, emphasized the benefits from the exercise.
“This joint field training exercise will improve the ability of the Armed Forces in military tactics, humanitarian and civic assistance,” said Kalimba.
He called upon the soldiers to put more efforts in the training so that they can acquire knowledge.
“We have to look ahead and improve security cooperation to address security threats that may occur in the region,” he concluded.
U.S. Army Africa, (USARAF), the land component of U.S. Africa Command, is co-leading the exercise with the Ugandan military.