This week, France announced plans to draw down the number of troops it has in Mali by 60 percent, leaving only 1,000 French soldiers in place. The remaining troops will support the Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali of the United Nations. Originally, the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) was planning on overseeing the peacekeeping effort in there. Unfortunately, it took AFISMA nine months to get boots on the ground (despite being based in the region). As a result, interim leaders in Mali were forced to appeal to their former colonial power, France, for assistance. So before the African-led forces entered Mali, the French were already there with Operation Serval.
With violence and instability in several parts of Africa and the desire for “African solutions to African problems,” Lesley Anne Warner, research fellow at the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University, discusses why African-led security forces must improve their responsiveness in 2014.
As reported by Warner, 78 percent of United Nations peacekeepers are currently serving in eight African missions. Some of the recent areas requiring intervention have been the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Unfortunately, the African Union’s Standby Force is not expected to be fully operational until 2015, increasing Africa’s dependence on global interventions.
In light of this setback, the AU has been thinking about creating an interim rapid reaction force with the deployment capability to respond to “grave circumstances,” such as mass atrocities and war crimes, within 14 days. However, this force has seen delay after delay as well.
In her brief, Warner proposes strategies for policymakers to support and develop African-led peacekeeping forces as well as the importance of continuing to engage the international community in these peacekeeping efforts.
Read Foresight Africa 2014, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year, to learn more about Africa’s capacity to develop a fast and efficient security response force as well as other critical issues for the region.