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» 14.08.2009 - Uganda well-positioned to steer East Africa, Zoellick

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East Africa forces hold 1st ever joint field training exercise

afrol News, 2 September - The Defence Forces of the East Africa Community bloc will hold the first ever joint Field Training Exercise codenamed “EX - MLIMA KILIMANJARO 2009” in Arusha and Tanga regions in Tanzania starting tomorrow.

The exercise which will run from the 3rd to 26th September 2009, will see all the EAC Partner States, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, taking part in the exercise aimed at regional capacity building for peace-keeping as well as to counter terrorism.

The “EX - MLIMA KILIMANJARO 2009” is the first-ever Field Training Exercise to be conducted by the EAC Armed Forces and to be fully funded by the Partner States, pursuant to the EAC Treaty, the MoU on Co-operation in Defence and the Council decisions.

The exercise is meant to practice a Combined Joint Task Force of 1,556 personnel including key stakeholders from all the five EAC states in three themes of peace support operations, counter terrorism and disaster management in order to enhance mutual understanding on how to handle such problems in a typical East African situation.

It will also involve provision of medical and veterinary services as well as some humanitarian activities at Arkatani and Musuberi villages in Monduli District, and Pangani District in Tanga Region. The Partner States' Forces will also undertake renovation and re-construction of various public infrastructures in both Arusha and Tanga regions, according to the EAC.

The key events for the exercise will be held in Monduli, Arusha and the opening ceremony will take place on Sunday 6 September 2009, where the Tanzanian president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete expected to officially open, while President Paul Kagame, the Chairman of the EAC Heads of State Summit and President of the Republic of Rwanda is expected to grace the closing ceremony.

According to the EAC, so far, three major joint military exercises have been held, namely the EX ONGOZA NJIA, held in Tanzania in February 2005 on peace support operations, the EX TREND MARKER, held in Kenya, in September 2005 on counter terrorism; and the EX HOT SPRINGS, held in Uganda in September 2006 on disaster management. Also, Kenya and Uganda have held joint maneuver exercises at bilateral levels in addressing the problem of cattle rustling in West Pokot and Karamoja.

“These initial exercises, mainly command post exercises, are now set to move to a higher level of more elaborate field exercises and near real battle simulations involving larger numbers of forces personnel and military hardware. At another level, the defence co-operation has involved military training exchange programmes for Directing Staff and Students at Staff Colleges in Kimaka-Jinja, Karen-Nairobi and Monduli- Arusha as well as exchange of cadet training courses at the prestigious Monduli Military Academy in Tanzania. Of equal importance in confidence building among the armed forces is the annual East African Military Sports and Cultural Week which are held in rotation in the EAC Partner States,” the bloc’s secretariat said in a statement.

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