The African Union, AU, is looking out for new ways on how to entrench peace in a generally, conflicts-stricken African continent. In an exercise dubbed, "Africa Endeavor", the AU, working hand-in-glove with the US Africa Command, the EU, ECOWAS, ECCAS, NATO, Canada, Holland, the US, France and thirty-three African countries, have been working out tactics on how to ease interoperability in situations of conflicts.
According to Major Karim Ouily from Burkina-Faso, military officials in the African continent and their technical partners are interested in learning how to synchronise, catch-up and acquire new technological skills in the military sector.
“We also want to know ourselves better and our respective cultures, so that in peace keeping operations, soldiers can easily accept and be ready to work together,” he mentioned.
Col. Stephen Koku Assam from Ghana corroborated his colleague from Burkina-Faso; “The African continent is dotted with trouble spots here and there, leading to rebellions and war-like situations. Our people must live a peaceful life, so, the AU is convinced that it must have its own standby force to be able to contain aggression and not be held hostage by rebel groups. That is why the AU is motivated to craft its own peace support operations,” he said.
Captain Peter Jacobs of the Royal Netherlands Army said the African army is learning interoperability tactics so that they can work on the same systems, share information among African countries through communication networks and collaborative communication links with technical partners.
“This ‘Africa Endeavor Exercises’ are opportunities for the AU to look around for its own task force, comprising several African countries so that they can easily work together,” he added.
Commander Bryan McRoberts ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise’ Director from the USA told journalists that they are working with the AU to exchange ideas, share information, look for solutions to security challenges that people across the world face. He said the US is motivated to be part of the exercise because it is their interest to foster a prosperous and stable African continent. “We want to build partnerships in relations,” he noted.
The US soldier said the ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise’ is an opportunity for his African colleagues to build their capacity within the military and evolve with new communication technologies.
Col. Gabriel Mvogo from Cameroon explained that their training hinged on an imaginary country named Carana, in which there is a political upheaval and the AU is forced to come in and keep peace.
“Therefore, operational and tactical links must be put in place in order to achieve peace. ‘Africa Endeavor’ is a learning forum on how to keep peace in the African continent, taking into consideration the socio-cultural components of the country in crises,” he said.
Mvogo told the press that ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise’ is an African initiative, sponsored by the US government via the US Africa Command, AFRICOM, with the intent to develop better military communication techniques and strategies. “It is also a forum to reinforce the African forces in their respective countries and the AU forces when they are called up for peace keeping and humanitarian interventions.
We, Africans are out to create our own approach to our own problems. In the Central African Region, we have the regional brigade stationed in Bangui, Central African Republic. This will help us react to our own difficulties, “Mvogo said.
At the closing ceremony, spiced with military touch and colours, the representative of US AFRICOM, General Sharkes Cooper expressed gratitude to the host, Cameroon, for their support to make the regional exercises of ‘Africa Endeavor’ a success. He saw in the ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise’ an example that African countries are taking action and trusting each other.
“This is the time African countries and the AU must work on their training values and improve on communication strategies during peace keeping operations. It is time to create stability, partnerships and understanding,” said Cooper.
US Ambassador to Cameroon, Robert P. Jackson said ‘Africa Endeavor 2012’ is so far the greatest exercise, out of the five previous editions to be organised in the African continent, with operations composed of four different domains in the politico-strategic field. Ambassador Jackson said African territory should be guarded by African forces, who are well trained, adding that they must be disciplined in order to safe lives and property across the continent.
While declaring ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise 2012’ closed, Cameroon’s Minister of Defense, Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo said the government of Cameroon is very interested in the interoperability exercises, which has as mission - modernising communication links within African forces in the period of crises.
He made a plea that the resolutions drawn at ‘Africa Endeavor Exercise 2012’ should go operational for the betterment of the African continent.
Mebe Ngo also decorated some forty-eight military personnel from and out of Cameroon with various medals in the name of the President and people of Cameroon.
By: Walter Nana Wilson, AfricaNews reporter in Buea, Cameroon