Defence liaison officers from the East African Community (EAC) and their USAFRICOM partners, Monday begun a five-day Initial Planning Conference (IPC), in Kigali, to prepare for another joint exercise scheduled for August next year.
The objectives of the upcoming 11th edition of Ex-Natural Fire (Ex-NF 11) include: capacity building to deal with regional security threats; improving interoperability in the bloc’s five armies and jointly addressing complex security issues.
The RDF’s Brig. Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura officially opened the meeting.
“The RDF is honoured and happy to host the IPC for a number of reasons; the most important one being that it strongly believes in collective security,” Kazura said.
Kazura referred to collective security as an arrangement in which states cooperate to provide security for all against security threats which might challenge the existing order, by using possible agreed means.
“One of the prerequisites to promote collective security is this kind of multinational cooperation between partner states and other stakeholders to collectively design strategies to fight against any threat to the countries’ security.”
Kazura stressed that the RDF believes that EAC armed forces have to train hard and professionally to be able to deal with any threat, whether man made or natural.
“As of recent, we have seen new emerging threats such as terrorism and piracy. Whenever such disasters occur, it is right to say here that our armed forces are always at the frontline to contain those security threats which hinder the development of our countries.”
Ralph Park, Head of USAFRICOM Lead Planner for Ex-NF 11 is also attending the session.
The council of ministers will soon decide which country will host Ex-NF 11.
The armed forces of EAC partner states’ last held a similar exercise in Uganda’s Northern district of Kitgum late last year.
Its objective was mainly to enhance humanitarian and civic assistance or disaster relief capability and to enhance logistic planning and improve the capability of the military to work with other institutions like police and civil society.
It was a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise planned jointly by the EAC partner states and AFRICOM.
Before then, the bloc’s armies had conducted a three-week joint military exercise dubbed “Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro 2009” that was conducted in Arusha and Tanga regions of Tanzania, to test the capability of EAC’s rapid reaction forces.