KIGALI - The Rwanda Defence Forces, Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Caesar Kayizari has hailed US Africa Command (AFRICOM) initiative Africa Endeavour (AE) saying it will improve communication between African armies.
Speaking at the opening of the five-day planning conference for an AE 2010 communications training exercise, scheduled for August in Accra, Ghana, Kayizari noted that the upcoming exercise: “Will not only provide an opportunity for going through various tests, but will give an overall picture and status of communication and information systems and baseline for interoperability for African armed forces.”
“But in addition, it will also move fellow Africans towards a single location for a common goal that will equally improve cohesion.”
He explained that it will improve cohesion through the sharing of cultural values, “improving esprit de corps and human interoperability or social networks required for laying a strong foundation for a peaceful Africa.”
The final planning conference of Africa’s largest interoperability exercise is being attended by over 140 participants from over 30 African nations.
Anne Casper, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy, underscored her government’s commitment in supporting the initiative.
“Just as we support multinational peacekeeping operations and the African Union’s efforts to create regional standby peacekeeping brigades, we are proud to work shoulder to shoulder with the African union because it is in all our interests to see the realization of a strong, secure, prosperous, well-governed Africa,” she noted.
“Disasters like disease and transnational terrorists do not stop at national borders. Our ability to communicate with one another must follow the same model of seamless interconnectivity if we are to succeed.”
Kayizari and AFRICOM’s Lt. Col. David Schilling, the AE 2010 Exercise Director, rejected claims by critics who say the initiative, and others, are merely ploys by the US to gain influence in Africa.
Kayizari noted: “There are those who see it wrongly – peace is an interest of everyone. The US is interested in peace, not influence.”
“Security across the world can affect every single country equally. So, the more we work together for security, communications interoperability, or anything, the better we’ll be, as a group.” Schilling said.
Past field training exercises took place in Pretoria, South Africa (2006), Abuja, Nigeria (2008) and Libreville, Gabon in 2009.