Forty-two participants from eight countries in the region yesterday started training aimed at preparing them for the forthcoming civilian field exercise of the Eastern African Standby Force (EASF).
The five-day training is taking place at the Rwanda Peace Academy in Musanze District.
The Eastern African Standby Force draws personnel from regional countries that include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Seychelles and Ethiopia.
The training will enhance the capacity of the civilian component of the EASF, according to Col. Jill Rutaremara, the academy’s director.
Col. Rutaremara said such training was important as exercises are the most effective way of demonstrating and evaluating the preparedness of the EASF personnel for future operations.
“Like the military and police components, the civilian components must have a concrete plan that feeds into the overall operational plan in any peace support operation,” he said.
EASF is formerly the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG), which is one of the five regional forces for Peace Support Operations (PSOs) of the African Standby Force, consisting of military, police and civilian components.
“The civilian component should therefore not work in isolation; it has to be integrated with other components. The capacity to develop such cohesion cannot simply be achieved without training,” he added.
The training takes place ahead of the field exercise of EASF that is due to take place in Ethiopia before the year ends, which will bring together all components of the force, according to officials.
Col. Rutaremara added that the success of any peace support operations relies heavily on the planning process and a clear understanding of key elements such as discipline and timely decision making.
According to Dr Wariara Mbugua, the lead facilitator of the training, the role of civilians in peace support operations is significant and they need to acquire skills on how they can operate in volatile conditions.
She said the reality in Africa today is that peace support operations are often not deployed in post conflict situations but are increasingly deployed in circumstances where parties to the conflict are not committed to ending confrontations.
“While the disciplined forces in the missions work hard to maintain a secure local environment, civilians are called upon to make the environment self sustaining by laying the ground work for strong national institutions, rule of law and observation of human rights,” Dr Mbugua said.
The facilitator added that the training was the last in series of training of civilians who are supposed to be deployed in peace support operations and the focus was to train them on integrated mission planning process with military and police.