Regional military contingents have started arriving for the East African Community’s Field Training Exercise (FTX) codenamed Ushirikiano Imara, Military and Defence Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita has said.
The two-week exercise, that starts this week, is aimed at having a regional common approach on security challenges in the region.
Over 1600 military personnel are expected to take part.
“The contingents have started arriving and the main aim is to have armies that can respond to the challenges in region,” Nzabamwita said.
He further said that rebels like Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, FDLR–a militia composed mainly of Rwanda Genocide fugitives–and piracy on the East African coast needed joint efforts to be eliminated, adding that these are no longer national issues but regional issues that require a regional solution.
“When pirates strike in Mombasa the whole region’s trade will be disrupted. That’s why we have to have a joint solution,” he said.
The exercise will focus on the areas of peacekeeping, counter piracy, disaster management and counter terrorism.
The exercise will be hosted at Rwanda Military Academy, Gako in the Eastern Province and on Lake Kivu in Western province.
Speaking to The New Times recently, Kenya Defence Forces’ Col. Francis Ng’anga, who is also the chairman of exercise’s preparatory committee, said the training is aimed at preparing the regional armies to face any security threats.
“We have to be prepared for any threat to the region. However, this training helps the partner states armies to sit down and strategize ways of intervening and solving the problem,”
The regional member countries have recently been destabilised by terrorists. In July 2010 the terrorists killed over 70 people in Ugandan capital Kampala.
Kenya has also seen a rise in terrorist attacks.
Recently during the 10th extra-ordinary summit of EAC, Heads of State approved and signed the EAC protocol on co-operation in defence.
The summit directed that the protocol be ratified and instruments of ratification deposited with the EAC Secretary General by November 30, 2012.
They agreed that the negotiations on the mutual defence pact commence immediately thereafter.
By Eric Kabeera, The New Times