Settling ongoing conflicts and preventing others from erupting – the Africa-EU partnership for peace and security aims to ensure the continent has the stability it needs for sustainable development to take root.
One of the ways it works towards this is through the establishment of five civil-military-police capacities, one in each of Africa’s regions, which forms the African Standby Force (ASF), ready to undertake peacekeeping or intervention missions. The Force is made up of military and civilian expertise, the latter including police components. As part of the € 20 million support programme to the Regional Economic Communities, staff reinforcement, equipment and training receive funding.
What is the ASF’s role?
These standby forces are equipped for humanitarian intervention and include experts on political affairs, human rights, elections and gender issues. They stand ready to be called on either within their own region or elsewhere across the continent. Six missions and scenarios have been identified which would call on the ASF, including:
- Observer missions deployed alongside a UN mission – to be deployed in 30 days;
- A regional peacekeeping/building force – to be deployed in 30 days;
- Intervention for example in genocide situations – a robust military response in 14 days.
Training equates to a sense of ownership
For projects and programmes to work, people in the targeted area need to know the actions are theirs to direct, control and manage. Frequently, for that to be possible, training needs to step up. Since each force of the ASF should be made up of 6 000 men and women on standby at any one moment, a large amount of training is underway.
This covers issues such as the interaction between military and civilian personnel and with organisations like the UN. The EU has worked with the AU to help identify training needs, assess capacity and has visited training centres to see how the land lies. In order to build up Africa’s own training capabilities the EU is concentrating its support on regional training centres, active at a strategic and operational level, and stands ready to provide both funding and technical assistance.