Taking on the premise that Africa must not always depend on other continents for interventions in times of crisis, the African Union decided to strengthen its power of intervention in times of need by putting in place a 25,000-strong multinational standby force. The first training of the force took place in South Africa in 2015; at a time discussions were still underway as regards the country that would host its logistics base.
The force is an international peacekeeping organ of the African Union made up of military, police and civilian staff, ready to intervene whenever and wherever there is conflict on the African continent. It has it powers to go into an AU member country uninvited in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The AU started training the force at the time reports were rife that the force which is made up of five brigades from Africa’s economic blocs was facing challenges relating to poor co-ordination and the lack of political will among member states.
But Cameroon’s President Biya stepped up to the challenge and opted to host its Logistics Base and by December 20, 2017, the base was already ready for use. Defense Minister, Joseph Beti Assomo, took along with him some top ranking Cameroonian military officers to examine the work done for an eventual inauguration. It was more than 100 per cent complete. “We went beyond the expected works and did some additional work on the behest of the African Union,” he said.
The logistics base which is now operational was set up on the 201 Air Force Base. Setting it up consisted the transfer of some of the services of the Air Force to different locations, construction of new edifices near already existing ones, renovating and upgrading dilapidated structures on the site among others. The government of Cameroon funded the exercise.
The Defense boss, Joseph Beti Assomo, said everyone took the job seriously in other to keep a commitment that President Paul Biya took before his peers of the African Union when he opted to host the base. According to the Memorandum of Understanding on the location of the ASF logistics base, the government and the African Union agreed that the staff to man the logistics base should be put in place so that the structure can be inaugurated.
Considering the importance of the logistics base, hosting the base automatically made Cameroon one of the most important countries in Africa as far as intervention for peace-keeping operations is concerned. The Force has a major role to play as regards peacekeeping operations of the African Union and humanitarian actions in case of disasters on the African Union.
It is equally an undisputed diplomatic victory of President Paul Biya, who doubles as Chief of the Armed Forces.