, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Military officers from 12 African countries have concluded a month-long peace keeping exercise ahead of their deployment to Sudan’s Darfur region.
The Tactical Operations Staff Course was attended by 32 officers from Kenya, Burundi, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
The course, which was conducted by the Canadian military in partnership with the International Peace Support Training Centre-Kenya, was intended to provide junior and field officers headed to Darfur with skills and knowledge of Command Post Operations.
According to a statement from the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, the training will ‘enable them function in global peace support operations’.
Major Mike Calnan from the Canadian Forces’ Military Training Assistance Programme, said the training would enable officers of the rank of Captain to Lieutenant-Colonel to understand and relate to the phases of a peace support operation.
Major Calnan said that the instruction involved the planning of operational and logistical support for peace operations and related activities, while in Darfur or in any peace keeping mission in Africa.
“The Tactical Operations Staff Course is part of a comprehensive response to the crisis in the Darfur Region in Sudan and efforts to restore peace in the region through peacekeeping training for the African Union,” he said.
“It is a triumph for Africa that African Military forces through the African Union and the United Nations are playing key roles in restoring peace in countries facing conflict in the continent,” the major added.
Currently, the UN-AU mission in Darfur is made up of 15,000 mostly African peacekeepers.
Over the last three years, more than 300 military officers from across the African continent have attended the training and acquired basic skills necessary to effectively participate in peace keeping operations, in mid to high intensity conflict environments.
The Canadian Military Training Assistance Programme (MTAP) through which the course was conducted is a key instrument of Canada’s foreign policy and defence diplomacy, promoting Canadian interests and values and contributing to international peace and security.
The UN says that up to 300,000 people have died in Darfur from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and about 2.7 million fled their homes. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.
US special envoy Scott Gration is due to visit China, Qatar, Britain and France next week to revive efforts to bring peace to Darfur, a State Department official said in Washington on Friday.
The US sees China as a key to ending the six-year war because it is a government ally, military supplier and importer of Sudanese oil.