The African Union moved to establish a continental peacekeeping force in 2002, with different phases and deadlines set for phasing it in. It was originally scheduled to be operational by 2008, then 2010, then 2013. The new deadline for completing it is now set for the end of 2015.
Mali and Central African Republic were forced to call for help from the French military in their political crises. The African Standby Force is expected to counter the need for Western military intervention including that of the U.S.-sponsored Africa Command, SABC reports.
Each of Africa’s five continental regions will set up its own brigade.
The Southern African Development Community will provide training for the Southern African brigade.
But the standby force has its critics who say it could become a tool for stronger African countries to intervene in weaker ones without themselves being subject to its authority, SABC reports.
One of the problems delaying the process has been lack of consensus on who exactly should deploy the standby force — the African union or the United Nations — according to the Institute for Security Studies.
The establishment of the African Standby Force was directed by the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, signed in July 2002.
It called for establishing a rapid deployment force capable of intervening within two weeks in cases of genocide and gross human rights abuses.
The initial concept of the African standby force was for quick reaction capacity allowing Africans to respond fast to a crisis unhampered by any heavy political and instrumental burdens, according to PeaceAU.org.
The African Union Commission is planning to conduct a field training exercise in South Africa in October or November 2015 as part of an ongoing training cycle known as AMANI AFRICA II. The goal of the training is to develop the African standby force and make it fully operational by the end of 2015, the African Union says.
This field training exercise will evaluate the readiness of the African standby force. The first AMANI AFRICA exercise to evaluate the readiness of the African Standby Force was held in October 2010 in Addis Ababa, according to PeaceAU.org.
AMANI AFRICA II was originally scheduled for November 2014 in Lesotho. It was postponed and a new host nation sought following political insecurity there at the time.