East African rapid response force to address piracyNovember 25th, 2008 - 6:31 pm ICT by IANS
Nairobi, Nov 25 (Xinhua) East African countries have formed a 7,000-strong rapid deployment force to respond to conflicts and other crises including piracy within the region. Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetang’ula said the rapid response force will protect critical trade routes in the Indian Ocean to curb increasing incidence of piracy once it becomes fully operational.
“What we are trying to do now is create a situation where Africa will not be going to knock on every door all over the world asking for support,” he said.
The force will be headed by the chairperson of the East Africa Chiefs of Defence Comoros armed forces chief Brigadier-Geneneral Salimou Amiri and director of East Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) Simon Mulongo.
It will have a multinational headquarters manned by 65 personnel, a signal support unit of 120 officers, multinational forces from all member states and civilian and police personnel.
“I am urging EASBRIG to include piracy in its operational framework because it is one of the major challenges we are facing. It will play a key role once it adapts maritime capabilities to protect trade routes against piracy,” he added.
EASBRIG Commander Brig Gen Osman Nour Soubagale said the force was up to the challenge and would take up all the tasks once it is ready in 2010.
He said the African Union (AU) had developed an African common defence and security policy in 2004 that would pave the way towards the full establishment of an African Stand-by force capable of rapid deployment by 2010.