The 11-day exercise would strengthen the capacity of the Task Force (TF) component of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) towards making it functional by 2008 .
The task force component comprises 1,500 of the 6, 500 strong ESF being created for deployment in Peace Support Operations (PSO), as specified under the African Union security architecture that requires that regional peacekeeping forces become operational by 2010.
The exercise will test the deployment and sustainment capabilities of the TF, the Command and Control of the various Headquarters in PSO at the operational and tactical levels and the strategic relationship with partners in the areas of troops lift/deployment, logistics and operational support in the field.
Or, are the militaries preparing for Darfur?
This announcement comes hours after the UN admitted equipment difficulties and obstacles created by the Sudanese government put in jeopardy the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID.
"If no appropriate offers for these missing units are identified by early 2008, it may become necessary to revert to the Council to consider options to mitigate the lack of air mobility,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno told IRIN. “This may require an increase in troops. But more troops will not 'replace' military aviation and they would also require more logistic support, more land, more water, and would likely not appear in Darfur until late 2008. Another sub-optimal last-resort measure would be to 'borrow' these capabilities from other missions."
He said that despite sincere efforts by the UN to address Sudanese concerns about the composition of the force, which is supposed to be predominantly African, the Government is yet to approve units from Thailand, Nepal and Scandinavia.
The Government has also not facilitated the acquisition of land and flight operations rights for UN aircraft, impeding the ability of UNAMID to carry out its mandate, while some of its proposals for the status of forces agreement with the UN "would make it impossible for the mission to operate."
Mr. Guéhenno said that unless these sorts of problems are resolved, the international community - which agreed at the end of July to authorize the deployment of UNAMID to quell four years of fighting and suffering that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced at least 2.2 million others - may soon face a hard choice.
"Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations, and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?"