Africa Standby Force in late November completed the final phase dubbed Amani Africa II in South Africa and is expected to be fully operation by January 2016.
Africa will have a full operational multi-dimensional standby force and a Radical Deployment Capability for the sustainable peace in the continent that will draw membership from 5 economic blocs of the continent.
The force is expected to have a 25,000- strong force from Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), North African Regional Capability (NARC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The primary role of the force is to provide immediate and effective response to crises in Africa with its mission and logistics headquarters in Ethiopia and Doula Cameroon respectively.
ASF was first proposed in 1997 following a streak of mass killings and delayed aid from the international community eliciting the need for a swift responsive force to the crises in Africa. The rule of thumb for the deployment of a force by the global community is relatively 9 months but the ASF was expected to deploy 14 days after the request for a rapid response team.
Most conflicts in Africa are mainly ethnical, political or recently terrorism related making them very volatile and with high numbers of casualties. This nature of violent conflicts require very swift and rapid response local standby force which is always-ready-to-go, with terrain and environment knowhow allows for the quick neutralization of would-be deadly crises.
The establishment of the ASF has been met with a number of challenges since its initial proposition in 1997 to 2016 when it is expected to be fully functional.
- Aid dependency: ASF is heavily dependent on the US, UK UN and the EU for operation funding. The current AU peacekeeping mission are over 90% funded making it even harder to raise funds for the standby force. A model has however been devised pending January 2016 to help raise 25% operation finances.
- Reluctance by the member state to contribute and commit: both the resources and troops contribution to the ASF is voluntary and most members are not willing to contribute causing financial and personnel strains on the force.
- Equipment and skills deficient: the troops ability to response swiftly is further impeded by the insufficient airlift capabilities, military equipment shortage as well the lack of capability of the various militaries to deal adeptly with the individual crises.
- Slow political decision making: political differences and slow political decision making process on when, how and the number of troops to be deployed poses a great challenge to ensuring swift responsiveness. Likewise dual and multiple commitments by members make it very difficult to deliver on the resources pledged.
- Operation Capability: The operational capability of various troops in different regions has posed a major challenge in terms of terrain and environment adaptability of the forces deployed.
Conclusion and forecast:
The final phase of the establishment of the African Standby Force which was held in South Africa; exposed the troops to different crises, evaluate the adeptness and operational capability before the official commissioning.
Despite the ASF overcoming most of the major challenges through a more efficient system, the funding challenge is still a huge impediment to its sustainability. It is still heavily dependent on the international partners for funding with high expectation of continued support.
Analysts have expressed enthusiasm for the force anchored towards the willingness of the member states to provide capabilities and resources to sustain the forces.
Upon its successful establishment the ASF will benefit the African continent by sustaining peace and providing it with a rapid and capable force that will significantly reduce the number of lives lost in crises and neutralization of conflicts before they turn dire.