Thirty seven Rwanda Defence Force officers have finalized the East Africa Community joint military training exercise code named Natural Fire 11.
More than 300 officers from the EAC partner states’ defense forces took part in the training that was held in Zanzibar from September 16.
The Rwandan contingent was led by Brig Gen Mushyo Kamanzi who was also the Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF).
During the closing ceremony, Zanzibar’s Second Vice President, Ambassador Seif Idd, called for sensitisation of East Africans about the benefits of regional integration.
“The realization that we are better off when integrated is not always obvious to our people and needs to be nurtured through demonstrating the actual benefits of our integration project,” he said.
Idd added that the joint military exercise demonstrated that integration is ‘a critical necessity’ since today’s security challenges transcend national borders.
He also proposed that future collaboration of EAC defence forces should go beyond military activities and tackle development concerns such as building of railways, classrooms and other infrastructure facilities in support of the region’s economic development ambitions.
Tanzania’s Minister for Defence and National Service, Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, said that Natural Fire 11 had tested the regional’s capacity to respond quickly and efficiently to regional crises.
The Commander of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), Gen David Hogg, said the exercise demonstrated the commitment of the Partner States to enhance security on a national and regional scale.
During the training, officers from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and United States exercised jointly in peace support operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster response, counter terrorism and counter piracy.
The exercise’s aims were: ensuring security and foster regional stability, developing the capacity of EAC defense forces to respond quickly and efficiently to complex security challenges and harmonizing the working relationship and cooperation.