JOHANNESBURG — Why does Africa need a standby, continental army that can parachute into hotspots at a moment’s notice?
For South African Navy Captain Jaco Theunissen, the answer can be boiled down to just a few words: Mali. The Central African Republic. Congo.
“It’s specifically because of those interventions,” Theunissen told VOA News. “… The feeling is that Africa should send their own African force instead of bringing the United Nations to come and do peace support operations. Let it be an African standby force doing the African peace support operations.”
The 25,000-strong African Standby Force, under the auspices of the African Union, aims to do just that. The force right now includes service members from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The ASF is expected to become operational in January.
Captain Theunissen is the military spokesman for the unit’s most recent exercise, called AMANI Africa II. The war games scenario recently ended in South Africa.
He says the troops he recently observed are well-trained, professional soldiers. Being African, he says, gives them a greater understanding of their environment, which makes for better peacekeeping. READ MORE OF THIS STORY ON VOA NEWS WEBSITE