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» 02.09.2009 - East Africa forces hold 1st ever joint field training exercise

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Joint EAC-US military field training exercise in Uganda

afrol News, 8 October - The East African Community defence forces together with the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) will hold a joint Field Training Exercise codenamed Exercise 'Natural Fire 10' in Kampala, Entebbe and Kitgum in Uganda, from 16 to 25 October.

The nine-day event, which will bring together more than 600 personnel from the five EAC Partner States and US AFRICOM, is the latest Joint Training Exercise aimed at promoting cooperation in defence within the Community.

It is also a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Exercise designed to practise troops from the United States and the five EAC Partner States in disaster management and will offer humanitarian assistance to the population within the Exercise areas.

Planned by the US AFRICOM, it was first held in 1998 as a bilateral exercise between the US and Kenya and reconfigured in 1999 as a multilateral exercise between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with the aim of improving cooperation between the EAC and the US, improving regional security and offering support for East African Community (EAC) defence cooperation.

The exercise 'Natural Fire 10' follows closely on the heels of 'Ex-Mlima Kilimanjaro' Field Training Exercise, conducted in September this year in Tanzania on the themes of Counterterrorism, Peace Support Operations and Disaster Management.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Beatrice Kiraso, described Exercise 'Natural Fire 10' as "another milestone for EAC cooperation in defence" adding, "The future of cooperation in defence is bright. This process will deepen the levels and widen the areas of cooperation in defence".

She said efforts to transform the MoU on Cooperation in Defence into a protocol were underway and that this work is expected to be completed within the next six months.

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