A seven-day exercise to assess the status of the troops pledged for the 6,500-
strong ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), their operational readiness, equipment and
training level will begin in Bamako, Mali on 15th June 2008.
Experts from the military, police, gendarmerie and their civilian counterparts
and pledged troops from all 15 Member States, will participate in the exercise
which will also evaluate the capacity of the ESF Task Force Headquarters to
plan and conduct peace-keeping operations as well as the capacity of the
dedicated transmission company to establish reliable communications.
The exercise, the first to be organized by ECOWAS, will enable the organizers
to simulate the involvement of the police and civilian components of the ESF
to test the operational procedures for the Force.
This certification exercise ends a series of training programmes designed for
officers from the Task Force Headquarters of the Standby Force – the
designated headquarters staff of the Force - and Commanders of the various
units pledged by Member States.
Training already conducted for the ESF includes a brigade command post
programme, civil military cooperation and disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration training, which are intended to enhance the knowledge of the
participants of the concept, principles and doctrine of peace support
The credibility of this exercise will enable the ESF Force Task Force
component to become operational before the end of 2008. The main brigade will
be under the operational control of the African Union, within the framework of
the African Standby Force, and will be available as one of the standby forces
for the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the continent.
For the first time in an ECOWAS exercise involving the force, the African
Union will be represented, alongside the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC), the multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade based in Denmark
(SHIRBRIG) and the Ethiopia-based Eastern African Standby Force (EASTBRIG).
The European Union, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United
States of America, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will
also be represented at the exercise, which will take place at the Ecole du
Maintien de la Paix in Bamako, one of the three ECOWAS Centres of Excellence.
The others are the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre in Accra,
Ghana and the National Defence College in Abuja, Nigeria.