BBC NEWS AT BBC.CO.UK/NEWS
Members of the African Union’s new 25,000-strong multinational standby force gathered in South Africa in October 2015 to begin field training for the first time.
The exercises, known as Amani Africa II, aimed to make sure the force was ready by January 2016 to respond to crises across the continent. The force consists of five brigades from Africa’s economic blocs.
The logistical base for the African Standby Force (ASF) will be in Douala, Cameroon, after a deal signed in October 2015. The training began at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatla with an opening ceremony. The next day, 5,000 officers from the military and police officers went into the field for the exercise, which replicated an event in which the ASF is called upon to intervene in a fictitious country. The operation continued until November 5, 2015, and was intended to help evaluate the force’s readiness to respond to crises and monitor peacekeeping missions.
Leaders expected the ASF to be fully operational by early 2016. But BBC Monitoring’s Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo said the African Union (AU) will have to ask donors for money because it has said that it needs $1 billion to make the force operational.
There are also challenges relating to poor coordination and the lack of political will among member states, he said.
The AU has become much more willing to intervene in countries over the past 15 years, said Hallelujah Lulie, an Ethiopian-based researcher for the Institute for Security Studies. Once the force is set up, it will be able go into an AU member country uninvited in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said.