Eastern Africa to expand rapid reaction forces

VICTORIA, Seychelles (Feb. 01, 2018) Sailors from the Comorian navy participate in visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills during exercise Cutlass Express 2018 in Victoria, Seychelles. Cutlass Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Western Indian Ocean nations. (Creative Commons / Ford Williams)

Defense ministers from eastern African countries on Friday decided to expand the region’s rapid reaction forces by taking in a standby force from Sudan.

The size of the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF), the mandate of which is to enhance peace and security in the region, will be expanded from 6,000 to 7,000 people after including the Sudanese force.

“This is a big number to support a peace support operation in our region,” head of EASF secretariat Brig. Gen. Getachew Shiferaw Fayisa said at a meeting of the force’s Council of Ministers for Defense and Security in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.

The EASF, which consists of military, police and civilian components, was established to provide capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention, peace support and stability operations, and peace enforcement.

Fayisa said that the council has made some key decisions for the EASF, including approving an EASF strategic plan for the next five years and renewing support to the EASF financial status.

Rwandan Defense Minister Albert Murasira stressed the need for the council to focus on the best ways of effectively addressing the root causes of conflicts and crises in Eastern Africa.

“I believe that if we continue to work together and coordinate our efforts, we will certainly achieve better results in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts, not only in Eastern Africa, but beyond,” he said.

The EASF now comprises Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

During the meeting, Hassan Omar Mohamed, defense minister of Djibouti, took over the EASF chairmanship from his Comoran counterpart Youssoufa Mohamed Ali.

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