Source: New Times/Ministry of Defence Rwanda
Col Ng’anga [L] and Lt col Ngendahimana [R].
Senior military officers in charge of training from the East African Community (EAC) are in the country to continue planning for another joint field training exercise set for Rwanda this year. This is the initial planning stage for the upcoming drills dubbed EAC Field Training Exercise (EAC FTX). “One of the primary goals of this coming together is to find modalities of working together as partner states to abate security threats that may arise at any one time,” Col Frank Ng’anga, the Chairperson of the meeting, told reporters in Kigali yesterday.
Ng’anga, who is head of training at the defence headquarters of the Kenyan army, noted that this particular session was not entitled to handle current threats, but admitted that the outcome of such joint drills was important for the entire region when it came to neutralizing common security threats such as terrorism. “As you know, we are in Somalia. Partner states are cooperating in combating that threat”.
The on-going meeting is a follow up on another held in January which was a “concept development meeting” on the latest planned manoeuvres. In January, Colonel Ng’anga told the media that they were looking at the broader spectrum of the planning aspects and that to carry out the joint field exercise “as one synergetic force in the region”. It will involve other key components, like the police, the ministries of foreign affairs, and others.
No date or venue has been fixed, but Rwanda will host the manoeuvres, a follow-up to the bloc’s Command Post Exercise (CPX) held in Musanze in October last year. The previous exercise did not involve troops but only command elements exercising normal military procedures. “When we come to the field training exercise, we go to the field and involve the troops. We plug in all the key players. That is, the forces that work together, whereby we have communications to check the procedures that we work on during the command post exercise, we evaluate how they are working and see where improvements are needed,” Col Ng’anga said.
Colonel Ng’anga reiterated that the drills are “extremely important” because they bring the armies together. “And one of the key areas is the synergizing of our military efforts and seeing how we can work together, thereby lessening threats that could arise.” Colonel Joseph Nshimiye, Burundian army’s in-charge of training appreciates the joint exercises by EAC partner states as he deemed them necessary for combating security threats.
Last year, more than 300 officers from the EAC Defence Forces took part in a joint command post exercise in Rwanda. The exercise codenamed ‘Ushirikiano Imara’ (Firm Cooperation) was conducted at the Rwanda Military Academy at Nyakinama, Musanze District. The EAC armies regularly conduct joint military exercises aimed at deepening cooperation in defence amongst the bloc’s member states, with similar exercises previously held in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.