ECOWAS Standby Force begins training

Wed, 6 Dec 2006 Source: GNA

Accra, Dec. 6, GNA - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Standby Force (EFS) on Wednesday began a two-week Multi-National Command Post Exercise (MNXCPX) at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) to sharpen their skills.

The US Government under its African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) Programme is sponsoring the five-million-dollar exercise.

It marks the joining of separate and related visions - that of the ECOWAS, the African Union and the ACOTA programme. The ACOTA programme seeks to develop Africa's capacity to respond to peace support operations requirements on the Continent with professional precision.

The exercise brings together prominent military officers with proven expertise from across Africa with the exception of Liberia. About 150 African soldiers are participating in the exercise.

The officers will apply their task in areas such as operations; logistics; civil-military relations; intelligence; administration and communications during the computer-assisted exercise.

AS part of the exercise, there would be multiple locations, with subsidiary exercise elements working from Thies, Senegal; Sikasso, Mali and Lagos, Nigeria, with strategic links to the ECOWAS Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

A high frequency net established by the Nigerian Signal Squadron, which is in full operation, will support the exercise as part of the EFS's strategic communications.

Brigadier General Hassan Lai, Chief of Staff of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), at the opening of the exercise said the benefits to be derived from the exercise were not quantifiable in terms of effort and resources.

He said the exercise would afford the EFS the opportunity to test the ECOWAS peace support operations doctrine; standing operating procedures and to also afford the staff the opportunity to practise jobs assigned to them.

Brig-General Lai noted that lessons to be learnt from the exercise would serve as a guide against future occurrence and that they would sharpen the training and planning tools to enhance the Forces' capacity.

The EFS is a rapid deployment force meant to prevent and manage conflict, peace and security in the Sub-Region. The exercise supports the AU's goal of standby brigades being operational in each regional economic community by 2010.

This is the first ACOTA multinational exercise with a single regional economic community's security structure.

Source: GNA