The Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) has attained Full Operation Capability (FOC) and is only awaiting an African Union mandate to deploy its troops in conflict areas, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, has said.
Nyamvumba made the remarks at a two-day validation workshop of the African Union Peace and Security Architecture (Apsa) assessment study in Kigali that brought together representatives of the five regional forces for Peace Support Operations (PSOs) of the standby force.
Of the five forces, only the EASF has attained the FOC status with troops ready for deployment although the forces need an AU mandate to set off.
“We are eagerly awaiting African Union to make a request to the use of this Force to contribute toward peace and security in our region and across the continent in line with the AU Commission’s aspiration of finding ‘African Solutions to African Problems,’” Gen Nyamvumba said.
The EASF first announced its readiness for deployment on peace operations as it wrapped up the last major exercise in November, last year.
According to Gen Nyamvumba, EASF decided in February 2014, to fast-track the declaration of Full Operational Capability at a time when several people were dying in South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Central African Republic and other hotspots on the continent following security assessment situation reports from EASF situation room.
“This was unacceptable and is still unacceptable. The EASF region today is saying very loudly; ‘we have come of age.’ And as a region, we are ready to make good our humble contribution in support of ASF and Peace and Security in general in our region and across the continent, under the banner or Hat – EASF,” he said.
Member states of the EASF have already pledged all the required 5,200 forces and EASF Secretariat already confirmed the pledges.
The Director of EASF, Amb Chanfi Issimail, said the report provides guidance for future peace, security, stability and prosperity across the continent.
“We have to draw lessons from the painful experiences that we, as a continent, have been facing since the establishment of APSA,” said Issimail.
Rwanda, the current chair of the regional grouping, pledged to contribute a motorised battalion of 850 troops and a police contingent of 140 police officers under Formed Police Unit as well as 100 Individual Police Officers to the EASF.