The African Union Peace Support Operations Division (AU PSOD) Capability Development Unit (CDU) coordinated a three-day review of a draft African Standby Exercise Planning guide. The workshop ran from the 25-27 February 2019 at the Holiday Inn, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Participating in the review were officials of the AU PSOD, a number of individual planning experts from the five regions, independent experts, NATO and the African Centre for the constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) Training for Peace (TfP) Programme.
A draft Exercise Planning Guide that was developed under the supervision of the CDU served as the zero paper that informed the review process. The review therefore aimed at improving the draft and turn it into a guide that will inform the planning process for all type of African Standby Force (ASF) conceived exercises and mission deployments. In its efforts to enhance the capacities of the ASF, the African Union (AU) Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) plans, coordinates and conducts exercises with Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs to ensure ASF readiness to deploy for Peacekeeping or Peace Support Operations (PSOs). The RECs/RMs have pledged multinational, multidimensional and integrated standby formations that exercise to enhance coherence and interoperability during deployments.
Exercises are useful evaluation tools to test response mechanisms while evaluating ASF response readiness as guided by policies, procedures and timelines. The ASF has been carrying out functional and full scale exercises that have included Command Post Exercises (CPX), Field Training Exercises (FTX) Map Exercises (MAPEX). These exercises are conducted to maintain operational readiness and fitness for operations deployments. These exercises are measured by the extent to which they meet aims and objectives thereby confirming capacity and capability.
Of significance has been the fact that while so many exercises have been coordinated by PSOD, a number of them have also been conducted at the regional level but the planning processes for these exercises have not been uniform. Each activity was planned and conducted in line with the level of understanding that the planning teams possessed but the plans used were never similar, hence the need for developing planning standards, harmonisation and synchronisation. The review has thus focused on ensuring that ASF planning be guided by one system to ensure coherence and interoperability.
Participation in activities that focus on peace operations capacity enhancement is in line with ACCORD/TfP Programme’s strategic goal of supporting efforts at strengthening the AUC, RECs/RMs and member states capability to plan, manage and conduct exercises and PSOs on the continent through the enhancement of the ASF capacities. The improvement of the operational capability and functioning of organizational systems in the UN/AU/RECs/RMs, member states and mission structures is a prerequisite for successful conflict intervention on the continent.
The Training for Peace Programme at ACCORD is an initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.