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Eastern Africa standby force to have operational capacity by 2015
Saturday, May 18, 2013

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Military experts attending the ongoing field training exercise of 10 Eastern Africa armies held here in the eastern Ugandan district of Jinja have said the Eastern African Standby Force (EASF) would be ready for operation by 2015.

The EASF is one of the five regional multi-dimensional components of the African Standby Force consisting of the military, police and civilian elements.

The EASF was established as a regional mechanism to provide capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention, peace support and stability operations and, peace enforcement.

Brig. Gen. Jack Bakasumba, the EASF Brigade Commander told reporters here on Friday that the force would have full operational capacity to undertake any mission.

"By full operational capability we mean that by 2015, the EASF comprising of the three components, the military, police and the civilians will be able to undertake any mission assigned by the United Nations or the African Union. The military forces will be held on standby in the various member states," he said.

Over 1,200 troops, police and civilians from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and host Uganda are attending the exercise dubbed EASF FTX 'Mashariki Salam 2013' translated as 'Peaceful Eastern Africa'.

The troops will undergo a simulation exercise whereby they will carry out peace enforcement similar to the operations of the African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

The EASF has already conducted exercises in Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan.

Maj. Gen. Francis Okello, the Commander of Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre, the hosts of the exercise said that once the force is in place, the indecisiveness of the international community to deploy troops in potentially genocide situations or grave abuse of human rights would be dealt with.

"The indecisiveness of the international community during the genocide in Rwanda sparked all this we are trying to achieve, the Africa Standby Force, the Eastern Africa Standby Force and the rapid deployment capability," he said.

He said the force would be deployed in genocide like situations, areas where there is serious human rights abuse and in disaster hit areas in the region.

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