Windhoek – Preparations for the interoperability humanitarian joint exercise code-named “Blue Kunene” slated for next May got off the ground following an initial planning session that started in Windhoek on Monday and expected to conclude today.
According to the public relations department in the Namibian Ministry of Defence the planning session is being attended by SADC member states’ military personnel and line ministries.
All SADC member states will participate in the military exercise to be held in the Kunene Region where participants will conduct mock exercises on how to respond effectively to both man-made and natural calamities in the region and beyond.
In line with Article 13 of the Protocol of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) which birthed the five African sub-regional standby forces, including the SADC standby force, every sub-region standby force should be capacitated with the ability to respond swiftly and timeously to any crisis including the provision of disaster relief support and humanitarian assistance.
The Article further mandates the sub-regional standby forces to establish a multipurpose composition encompassing military, police and civil components that would stand ready for rapid deployment as well as respond effectively to any crisis.
The exercise is expected to equip SADC air forces, air wings and air arms members with the necessary capacity to promote regionalism and inter-operability of air assets and equipment, practise and improve doctrine, promote peace and security in the region and beyond and respond to emergency situations.
Since this is an air power related exercise, air forces, air arms and air wings personnel from SADC region under the auspices of the SADC Standby Force convene planning events in order to review successes and challenges emanating from previously equivalent interoperability exercises.
In this context, the initial planning conference for Blue Kunene presents participants with the opportunity to reflect on the threats posed by man-made and natural disasters as well as to share experience that would compel them to come up with best solutions to disaster relief support capabilities.
Exercise Blue Kunene is the seventh of its kind following Exercise Blue-Angel held in Zambia in 2005, Blue-Ruvuma that was in Tanzania in 2007, Blue-Hungue that was held in Zimbabwe in 2009, Blue-Cluster that was held in South Africa in 2011, Blue-Zambezi that was held in Angola in 2013, and the recent Blue Okavango that was held in 2015.
Officially opening the Ex-Blue Kunene Initial Planning Conference, Major-General Ben Kadhila, the Chief of Staff Joint Operations, informed the gathering at a hotel in Windhoek that the conference presents SADC with the best opportunity to deliberate and arrive at desired outcomes that would make Blue Kunene a success.
“The joint planning meetings also provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the threats that both man-made and natural disasters pose to the security of our nationals and also allow us to share experiences and come up with best ways of disaster relief support capabilities,” he said.
Blue Kunene will take place in the Kunene Region given that it is Namibia’s most drought-affected area for the past years.
“Kunene Region was found to be the most affected by years of persistent low rainfall resulting in devastating drought for the last five years,” said Kadhila, adding that the situation in Kunene makes life difficult for both humans and livestock.