The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: Joint Military Exercises Set for October

UP TO 1,816 troops from the armed forces in the region, including disaster management officials, will participate in the forthcoming, EAC Field Training Exercise (FTX) codenamed Ushirikiano Imara.

The two-week event commences on October 14 at the Rwanda Military Academy, Gako, in the Eastern Province and on Lake Kivu in Western Province. About 50 military officers are currently meeting in Kigali in the final preparation meeting.

Speaking to The New Times, 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 that might imperil the region, however, this training helps the partner states armies to sit down and strategize ways of intervening and solving the problem," said Ng'anga.

He said that the training will focus on counter terrorism and counter-piracy.

Col. Joseph Ndayishimiye, in charge of training in Burundi National Defence, said insecurity in the region cannot be eliminated unless EAC armies join hands.

"You know what Al-shabaab did in Uganda and Kenya, and it might happen again in any regional member state. That's why we have to be prepared to confront these insecurities.

The region member countries have recently been destabilized by terrorists. In July 2010 the militants killed over 70 people in Ugandan capital Kampala.  The terrorists bombed football fans who were watching the 2010 World Cup final.

Kenya has also seen a rise in terrorist attacks.

Recently in 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 this year.

They agreed that the negotiations on the mutual defence pact commence immediately thereafter.

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