The Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS member states ended their 21st meeting in Banjul by agreeing on a follow-up comprehensive study that will enable the region determine the strategic air and sealift deficit that needs to be plugged in meeting the deployment needs of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF).
The follow-up study will evaluate the existing assets of member states and enable the region to determine the additional requirements for providing the most cost effective and efficient air and sealift capability for the force.
A Joint Study Team comprising staff of the ECOWAS Commission, officers from the Armed Forces of Nigeria and Nigeria’s National Defence College concluded an initial study based on a Term of Reference (TOR) that, among other things, recognized the UN standard table of equipment at the minimum for the ESF.
The TOR also focused on developing a strategic capability for a four-phased movement of troops and equipment either from the troop contributing countries to the theatre of operations or from logistic depot and bases to a mission area in four stages.
The 6,500-strong ESF, comprising a revised task force of 2,773 and a main brigade of 3,727, should be operational by 2010 in compliance with the African Union timetable for the operationalization of the regional standby force arrangement.
The three-day meeting of the committee also recommended that ECOWAS send a delegation to Guinea Bissau to understand the challenges facing the military and the requirements for conducting a successful reform of the country’s security sector. This is to ensure that the reform is hitch-free.
Members of the committee were briefed during the meeting on the arrangements for the impending ECOWAS Standby Task Force Command Post Exercise in Mali in 2008 which is aimed at improved capacity building of the ESF.
Member states have already pledged the 6,200 troops for the ESF with the remaining expected to comprise the civilian and police components of the Force.
There was also an update on the African Standby Force Command Post Exercise scheduled for March 2010 which is to be supported by EURO RECAMP, a European Union–French initiative.
The meeting, the first to be hosted by Tthe Gambia, was briefed on the security situation in the region, Exercise DEGGO (Command Post and Field Training of Troops) held in
Thies, Senegal, last year with the support of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. They were also updated on the process for the creation of an ECOWAS Emergency Response Team (EERT), which will provide the region with the capability to respond to complex emergencies and the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, a document that has been approved by the regional Council of Ministers.