PRESS RELEASE

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE

Year 2008 Selected
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N°: 056/2008
12 June 2008 [Bamako]

FIRST ECOWAS EXERCISE TO ASSESS READINESS OF ITS STANDBY FORCE STARTS IN BAMAKO

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 operations. 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.


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