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24 juillet 2015 5 24 /07 /juillet /2015 11:45
A US soldier assists a DRC soldier rebuilt a truck engine. Africom photo

A US soldier assists a DRC soldier rebuilt a truck engine. Africom photo


23 July 2015 by Africom - defenceWeb


Recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo National Logistics School graduated its fourth class since 1983. U.S. Army Africa and several international organizations were involved in the curriculum and instruction at the school in Kinshasa, DRC.


More than 600 graduates from all corners of the DRC and branches of the military including Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior security forces participated in the six-month program.


The DRC Logistics School Initiative started with a shared vision between the leadership of the DRC, U.S. Department of State and the European Union. The combined effort for this program began in November 2014.


According to Don Brown, a senior U.S. Army contractor, the DRC, U.S. State Department, EU partner nations, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and USARAF teams worked to design an institution that would form the foundation for a new generation of DRC logistical leaders and increase the DRC’s land forces readiness posture.


The DRC identified and consolidated talented individuals from all branches of the military to support the pilot program. EU participants contributed to the infrastructure, providing the facilities, building and furniture. The U.S. Department of State and its contracting representative, the Crisis Response Company, worked with the commandant and cadre of the logistics school to develop course curriculum.


USARAF’s Directorate of Logistics acted as the lead integrator, providing overall concept, planning, coordination, oversight and subject matter expertise focusing on designing a sustainable institution. Support for the school came from several organizations including the Army Logistics University, AFRICOM’s Regionally Aligned Force, 3rd Brigade 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The RAF provided a six-person Institutional Logistics Assistance Team known as an ILAT.


The ILAT worked with the DRC National Logistics School to assist cadre, instructors and the commandant with every facet of the school’s development, management and execution. Maj. Carlos Morales, officer in charge of the ILAT, worked directly with the commandant of the logistics school to refine curriculum and develop the DRC’s version of a Senior Sustainment Leaders’ course.


Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Flores provided noncommissioned officer guidance at the tactical level with the school’s cadre and students. ILAT members also assisted DRC cadre by providing subject matter experts in food service, transportation, ammunition, maintenance, armament repair, fuel supply operations and supply management. Flores stressed the ‘train as you fight’ approach to training, constantly reminding Congolese soldiers “What you learn here are the foundations of your skills. Learn it, remember it and master it.”


Congolese cadre provided instruction through classroom lectures, hands-on and practical exercises dedicated to expanding students’ abilities to conduct various sustainment operations in austere environments. The ILAT also assisted with the refinement of course instruction, teaching techniques and developing enduring academic institutional policies.


After six months of intensive classroom and hands-on training, students held a graduation ceremony attended by representatives of the DRC’s National Congress and director of military operations, USARAF, the U.S. Department of State, EU and numerous senior military leaders. The event culminated with 612 graduates conducting a pass in review.


The DRC intends to conduct two iterations of the logistics school per year for the next several years in order to build continuity within its forces. The next iteration of the logistics school will start this month, with DRC cadre, U.S. Department of State, international partners and the USARAF ILAT continuing their collective efforts to develop a sustainable and enduring logistics institution.

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7 juin 2015 7 07 /06 /juin /2015 11:20
DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals 2015

5 juin 2015 by DARPA


The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals take place June 5-6 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. DARPA will stream produced footage of the event throughout the day. Video will be sent on an approximately two-minute delay to avoid influencing team performance.

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8 mars 2015 7 08 /03 /mars /2015 08:20
25 teams to participate in DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

To qualify for the DRC Finals, the new teams had to submit videos showing successful completion of five sample tasks: engage an emergency shut-off switch, get up from a prone position, locomote ten meters without falling, pass over a barrier, and rotate a circular valve 360 degrees.


Mar 06, 2015 (SPX)


Washington DC - The international robotics community has turned out in force for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals, a competition of robots and their human supervisors to be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., outside of Los Angeles. In the competition, human-robot teams will be tested on capabilities that could enable them to provide assistance in future natural and man-made disasters.


Fourteen new teams from Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the People's Republic of China, South Korea, and the United States qualified to join 11 previously announced teams. In total, 25 teams will now vie for a chance to win one of three cash prizes totaling $3.5 million at the DRC Finals.


"We're excited to see so much international interest in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals," said Gill Pratt, program manager for the DRC. "The diverse participation indicates not only a general interest in robotics, but also the priority many governments are placing on furthering robotic technology. As this technology becomes increasingly global, cooperating with the United States in areas where there is mutual concern, such as disaster response and homeland security, stands to benefit every country involved.


"We're looking forward to seeing how the teams ensure the robustness of their robots against falls, strategically manage battery power, and build enough partial autonomy into the robots to complete the challenge tasks despite DARPA deliberately degrading the communication links between robots and operators," said Pratt.


To qualify for the DRC Finals, the new teams had to submit videos showing successful completion of five sample tasks: engage an emergency shut-off switch, get up from a prone position, locomote ten meters without falling, pass over a barrier, and rotate a circular valve 360 degrees.


"There will be roughly 15 different commercial and custom physical robot forms demonstrated at the DRC Finals," said Pratt. "Although seven teams will use the upgraded Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics, it's each team's unique software, user interface, and strategy that will distinguish them and push the technology forward."


In tandem with the DRC, DARPA is sponsoring the Robots4Us contest, which asks U.S. high school students to prepare 2- to 3-minute videos describing their vision of the roles they'd like to see robots play in future society. Up to five individual winners (with chaperones) will be selected to receive a trip to attend the DRC Finals in person and participate in a panel discussion before an audience of media, engineers, and industry leaders. The deadline for entries is April 1, and rules for the contest can be found here.


The DRC Finals event is free and open to the public and media. In addition to the competition, an on-site robotics exposition (DRC Expo) will showcase technology related to disaster response, robotics, and unmanned aerial systems, and include an overview of DARPA's mission and legacy.

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24 mars 2014 1 24 /03 /mars /2014 17:45
SANDF troops conducting jungle warfare training in Port St Johns

SANDF troops conducting jungle warfare training in Port St Johns


20 March 2014 by Guy Martin - defenceWeb


The South African National Defence Force is using Port St Johns as a jungle warfare training facility in preparation for the deployment of 850 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo in May, when they will join the UN’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) tasked with rooting out rebels.


5 South African Infantry (SAI) Battalion will replace 6 South African Infantry Battalion at the end of May under Operation Mistral, marking the unit’s first time in the DRC. The deployment will be for a year – most previous UN deployments were for six months but it is more economical and effective to deploy forces for a year, as less time is spent acclimatising with one deployment per year than two.


6 SAI deployed in May-June last year, joining a battalion sized element from Tanzania and a battalion sized element from Malawi. Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton of the SANDF's Joint Operations Division said that, to his mind, the Tanzanian and Malawians have demonstrated good performance in the DRC.


5 SAI started with pre-deployment training and is now busy with mission readiness training. Phase 1 of training was conducted at the Boschoek Training Area between 10 and 22 February and covered shooting, helicopter drills, buddy aid, GPS training and offensive and defensive attacks. Phase 2 started on March 3 in Port St Johns and will end on March 21. It is covering patrols, jungle warfare, water orientation, combat shooting, house clearing and offensive and defensive actions.


Port St Johns was chosen as the ideal spot for jungle warfare training as its dense forests are an almost exact replica of what troops will experience in the DRC. The SANDF’s other more established training facilities focus more on grasslands and savannah scenarios.


Brigadier Gen Mannetjies de Goede, from the SA Army Infantry Formation, said that experiences in the Central African Republic and DRC made the SANDF realise that the battlespace has changed and that the SANDF needs to adapt with it. Training was occurring in silos, he said. Before 6 SAI deployed to the DRC it trained in Grahamstown which does not have forests – current training areas do not cover tropical training hence a request was made to train in Port St Johns. Training in jungle terrain is part of the SANDF’s initiative to improve combat readiness as soldiers will go straight into battle when they arrive in the DRC, de Goede pointed out.


Some combat readiness training was demonstrated to the media on Wednesday, including scenarios with 81 mm mortars, 12.7 mm heavy machineguns and 40 mm grenade launchers. Journalists were taken on a tour of the forest when ‘rebels’ attacked, capturing some and holding them hostage before SANDF troops charged through the foliage and rescued them, firing a good many blank rounds along the way.


However, training has not all been simulated. Whilst conducting urban patrol training in Port St Johns, the 5 SAI soldiers responded to a real life event on March 12. Armed men attempted to rob a cash in transit security crew in the town’s business district. The robbers opened fire at the soldiers, who retaliated. During an hour-long standoff, three armed robbers and a security guard were killed and R21 million was recovered. It appears that the security guard was in plain clothes and was carrying a gun when he was shot. No soldiers were injured in the incident but one bystander was injured by a bullet that tore through his shin. Several weapons were confiscated, including an R-4, an AK-47, a .38 Special revolver and 9 mm handgun.


In addition to training, 5 SAI also engaged in an outreach programme that assisted a place of safety that takes local boys off the street. SANDF personnel voluntarily donated R4 963 to the Eluxolweni initiative, which was used to buy clothes, food and blankets.


5 SAI will be deploying as part of the Force Intervention Brigade, made up of South African, Tanzanian and Malawian troops, and under the direct command of the Monusco Force Commander. The FIB’s offensive mandate is to reduce the threat posed by armed groups to state authority and civilian security in the eastern DRC and to make space for stabilisation activities. Other objectives are to protect civilians, monitor the arms embargo and support the DRC government. They are also charged with protecting United Nations personnel, facilities and equipment.


The troops of 5 SAI are expected to be engaged in combat operations as soon as they arrive in the DRC as there are still numerous rebel groups active following the withdrawal of the M23, such as the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). Paxton said that there was a lot of action in the DRC last year and he didn’t see this changing in 2014.


At the moment there are various South African elements in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A special contingent includes aircraft personnel, military police, logisticians, engineers and others. This group is headquartered in Kinshasa and is under command of the UN mission in the DRC (Monusco). The South African aviation unit, which includes Rooivalk combat helicopters and Oryx transport helicopters, is based in Goma. The aviation unit is an operational tool of the Monusco’s force commander, meaning that the helicopters are under UN, not South African, control.


As the FIB supports the DRC government’s armed forces (FARDC), South Africa has also provided training to the FARDC under operation Thebe.


The DRC rotation, expected to take three weeks to complete, is one of the SANDF’s three external deployments. The other two are Operation Copper ensuring maritime security in the Mozambique Channel and Operation Cordite with Unamid in Sudan.


Click here to see the training in action.

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3 décembre 2013 2 03 /12 /décembre /2013 17:45
DRC drones take to the sky for the first time



03 December 2013 defenceWeb


Another component of the UN’s ongoing efforts to bring peace to the troubled DRC came into play today when UAVs were launched in Goma for the first time as an additional surveillance tool.


Herve Ladsous, head of peacekeeping for the world body, was in the eastern DRC city to witness the latest addition to the peacekeeping arsenal take to the skies.


MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is on record as saying the UAVs are an “important new tool to assist in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians”.


Ladsous said the UAVs are high technology systems that will allow better knowledge of what is happening on the ground. “This, in turn, will allow forces on the ground to do a better job,” he said.


MONUSCO brigade commander General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz said in October he expected to UAVs to be providing 24 hour surveillance by March next year.


He told Agence France Presse the UAVs would be based at Goma for at least five months and use of them would then be increased.


This is the first time the UN is using UAVs and, if trial surveillance use by peacekeepers in eastern DRC is successful, officials and diplomats are cautiously optimistic the unmanned platforms could be put in service by UN missions in South Sudan and the Ivory Coast.


The unarmed Falco medium altitude, medium endurance UAVs have been sourced from Italian company Selex ES following the signing of a commercial contract with the UN in July.


Expectations are the UAVs will make a major difference in surveillance in the eastern DRC where thick forests, rugged terrain and a scarcity of roads combine to make it difficult for ground-based troops to mount accurate observation.


Speaking ahead of today’s first UAV launch, Ladsous said there had been progress in creating a situation where civilians were at less risk than when particularly M23 rebels had been active.


The arrival of three South African Rooivalk combat support helicopters to augment the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) has been termed by some military commentators as the decisive intervention which forced M23 to retreat from its fortified positions on high ground outside Goma.


Ladsous sees the UAVs as further bolstering the Mission’s ability to protect civilians.


UN estimates are that at least 100 000 people have been displaced by fighting this year alone with 2.6 million people in total displaced by fighting between DRC forces and various rebels elements over the year.

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3 décembre 2013 2 03 /12 /décembre /2013 17:45
Le ministre De Crem en visite au Congo


03/12/13 Stephan Boonen – MIL.be


Le vice-Premier et ministre de la Défense Pieter De Crem a rendu visite, du 26 au 28 novembre 2013, aux militaires belges détachés au Congo. Au programme : rencontres avec la MONUSCO, l'EUSEC (programme européen qui montre la voie pour une transformation de la Défense congolaise) et entretien avec l'envoyée spéciale des Nations Unies, Madame Mary Robinson. Le ministre a ensuite pris la direction de Kindu où les paras belges ont remis le brevet commando au 323e Bataillon de « l'Unité de Réaction Rapide », marquant, de la sorte, le début des festivités.


photos Malek Azoug >>


Environ 700 militaires congolais ont réussi la formation éprouvante qui était dispensée par 107 paras du 3 Para de Tielen. L'un des instructeurs, le lieutenant Edmond de Frabribeckers explique : « La motivation des Congolais est frappante. Vous devez faire preuve d'énormément de patience et beaucoup répéter, mais cela en vaut la peine. Aujourd'hui, c'est comme si c'était le jour le plus important de leur vie. »


À la fin de la parade, les nouveaux commandos congolais défilent devant leur famille. Celles-ci les arrosent de farine. Pour agrémenter le spectacle, un C-130 largue deux parachutistes arborant les drapeaux belge et congolais.


Le colonel Luc Leclerq est le chef de corps du 3 Para. Il a mené ses hommes tout au long de la mission. Pour lui, il était important « que nous réussissions malgré et grâce aux difficultés rencontrées au début. Pourtant, nous avons finalement livré un produit plus qu'acceptable. » Pour le 3 Para, il s'agissait d'une expérience que l'on ne vit qu'une seule fois dans sa vie. Le colonel Leclerq poursuit : « Pour le 3 Para, c'est un sérieux coup de pouce à l'expérience africaine. Nous dispensons des formations en Afrique depuis 2002. Au début, c'était au Bénin. Actuellement, 306 paras ont travaillé près de deux mois. Pour l'exercice synthèse, 260 Belges étaient présents. Il s'agissait donc du plus grand détachement en opération. »


Après la parade, les militaires congolais se tombent dans les bras. Les para-commandos belges rentrent progressivement en Belgique. Le colonel Leclerq résume : « Cette mission est plus que réussie. Elle dépasse tout sur les plans personnel et multiculturel. Ce bataillon est prêt et équivaut certainement aux autres. »


Vidéo : Wim Cochet

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10 octobre 2013 4 10 /10 /octobre /2013 17:45
Rooivalk looks set for DRC deployment

Rooivalk set for DRC deployment


10 October 2013 by Kim Helfrich,- defenceWeb


Just on 30 years after development work started on a home-grown attack helicopter, South Africa’s Rooivalk seems set for its first operational deployment.


This is the inference drawn from a photograph circulating on social media of a Rooivalk with its customary camouflaged fuselage replaced by white paint. The photo was taken at AFB Bloemspruit, home to the SA Air Force’s 16 Squadron, which operates 11 Rooivalks.


The sighting of the white combat support helicopter comes after SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Chief Lieutenant General derrick Mgwebi in August said South Africa had no say in whether the Rooivalk would be deployed to support the UN Forward Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the DRC.


“South Africa is a troop contributing country and it does not decide on what military assets will be utilised,” he told a media briefing in Thaba Tshwane.


“The UN as the co-ordinator of the FIB has been made fully aware of the capabilities of the Rooivalk and any decision on its deployment into the eastern DRC theatre has to be made by the world body. We have told them what the rate for the Rooivalk is and a decision on whether or not it will go to the DRC rests solely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.


“Until a letter of assistance confirming the UN wants Rooivalk in the DRC is received, no aircraft from 16 Squadron will leave South Africa,” he said.


That at least one and possibly two of 16 Squadron’s inventory are now in UN white indicates the UN has taken a decision in favour of the rotary-winged aircraft that started life as a tank buster meant for use in the Border War.


At the time of publication no official confirmation of the Rooivalk DRC deployment had been received from the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) communications directorate.


Military aviation experts and enthusiasts were making use of chatrooms to spread the word, discussing possible armament and transport options to the eastern DRC.


On armament, aviation commentator Darren Olivier was of the opinion the Rooivalk will be equipped with the FZ 90 70 mm wraparound fin air rocket (WAFAR), carrying up to 76 in four underwing pods and 700 rounds of ammunition for the 20 mm F2 cannon. No Mokopa or other anti-tank missiles will be loaded “but the rockets and cannon are potent weapons,” he said.


Another chatroom poster said an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft was due in at OR Tambo International Airport late last night and wondered if it would pick up Rooivalks for the DRC.

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10 juin 2013 1 10 /06 /juin /2013 11:45
Democratic Republic of the Congo  - The Intervention Brigade Dribbles Into Action

June 10, 2013: Strategy Page


Logistics problems continue to delay the deployment of the UN’s Intervention Brigade. This comes as no surprise. Central Africa in general lacks transportation infrastructure. There are few paved roads.  The intercontinental airports in the national capitals are adequate, but airfields in the hinterland are a very mixed lot. Many airfields in eastern Congo are dirt fields that can only handle small planes (think Cessna) and helicopters.  The UN currently uses Goma’s airport (North Kivu province) as a logistical “airhead” (airfield as a logistics terminal) but it is inadequate.  Everyone knows it needs improvements.  The airport and the city lack sufficient facilities for storing supplies. Experienced military commanders and planners know a combat operation should never rely on one key supply source, and the UN Intervention Brigade has an offensive combat mission. The Goma airport is vulnerable to rebel attack. During the last week of May, M23 rebels repeatedly hit the airport with mortar fire. M23 suspended the attacks so UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon could fly in to Goma for a speech. Media reported that UN personnel said the Secretary General’s very large travelling entourage encountered numerous transportation and logistics problems in eastern Congo.  A second UN-sponsored group was also in the region. According to one official, supporting the two groups proved to be a logistical nightmare. Supporting the Intervention Brigade is far more complicated and there are problems here that may not be solved. This would limit the mobility and effectiveness of the Intervention Brigade. (Austin Bay)


June 9, 2013: M23 said that it had sent a representative to Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to participate in a new round of peace talks with the Congolese government.


June 6, 2013: UN officials in Congo stated that Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to the country and his stop in Goma has had a positive diplomatic outcome. The M23 rebel movement is indicating that it will resume peace negotiations in Uganda after having been suspended since early May.


June 5, 2013: A UN believes that nations involved in the Framework initiative for stabilizing central Africa must be prepared to fight the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group. The FDLR was founded by Rwandan Interahamwe Hutu extremists who organized and participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.  The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded Rwanda from Uganda, stopped the genocide and defeated the Interahamwe. Surviving Interahamwe fled into the eastern Congo. The Interahamwe were radical members of the Hutu tribe-dominated National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) which ruled Rwanda from 1975 to 1994. Rwanda has claimed that the FDLR receives support from sources in the Congo. The Rwandan government will not negotiate with the FDLR and that’s why the Intervention Brigade may include the FDLR on its list of targeted militias and rebel groups.


June 3, 2013: The Tanzanian brigadier general who has been designated as commander of the Intervention Brigade, BG James Aloizi Mwakibolwa, said that the brigade will operate as part of the UN Monitoring and Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO).  Some UN sources now refer to the brigade as MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade. The brigade will be based in North Kivu province and have 3,069 soldiers. Mwakibolwa sees four essential tasks for the unit: neutralizing armed groups; reducing the threat posed to Congolese government authority; providing security for Congolese civilians; and creating space for stabilization activities (UN jargon for establishing secured areas). The brigade will carry out targeted offensive operations in order to neutralize the armed groups. The Congolese Army may or may not participate in the offensive operations conducted by the Intervention Brigade.


June 1, 2013: The South African government said that it supports deployment of the UN’s Intervention Brigade in the eastern Congo but it hopes that Congo and the M23 rebel group will restart peace negotiations. However, South African media are giving a lot of attention to the Intervention Brigade’s peace enforcement mandate – that is UN peacekeeping jargon for an offensive mission.  Senior members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party have also raised the issue of foreign support for some of the rebel militias the brigade will likely confront.  A spokesman did not specifically mention Rwanda but Rwanda has been accused of providing M23 with money, weapons and training. Rwanda denies the accusation.


May 29, 2013: M23 rebels said they are willing to agree to an extended ceasefire. Over the last ten days, M23 and the Congolese Army have engaged in several firefights north of the city of Goma (capital of North Kivu province). An M23 spokesman said that the rebels are positioned near Goma’s airport and they can target the airport very easily because they have fighters on a hill overlooking the airport. M23 also accused allies of the government (likely a pro-government militia) of attacking its fighters while they were securing fresh water supplies. M23 takes its named from the March 23, 2009 peace agreement which was supposed to end the chaotic fighting in North Kivu province. The M23 rebels contend the government broke its side of the agreement. One major M23 criticism is that the rebels did not receive their fair share of positions in the Congolese Army.


May 28, 2013: A civilian group in north Kivu province has accused the Rwandan government of sending four battalions of soldiers into the Congo. The Rwandans allegedly fought a battle near the town of Mutaho (north of Goma, near the airport). Rwanda denied the accusation. Four battalions is a large body of troops and it is very unlikely that a large group of Rwandan soldiers entered the Congo. M23 rebels and Congolese forces have been skirmishing in the area.


The UN reported that a MONUSCO peacekeeping unit from the Indian Army is deployed on the north side of Goma. The unit is supported by armored vehicles.


The UN announced that the deployment of the Intervention Brigade will be delayed.  The UN and contributing nations are experiencing severe logistical difficulties. Diplomats are also saying that South Africa has told them that its military will need more time to fully deploy its troop contingent in part because South Africa is already extensively involved in other peacekeeping operations. South Africa does have a lead contingent on the ground in Goma. Tanzania has a contingent in Goma as well, which is where the brigade headquarters will be. Malawi has committed troops to serve in the brigade. Since 13 South African peacekeepers were killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this year, a number of South Africans have questioned the Intervention Brigade deployment. The critics argue that South Africa is already doing more than its share of sub-Saharan peacekeeping.


May 23, 2013:  The UN Secretary visited Goma and delivered a speech. He declared that improving security and development must go forward simultaneously in Congo. Before his arrival, M23 said that it would observe a ceasefire.  The rebels demanded that the government sign a ceasefire agreement.


May 22, 2013: UN observers reported more skirmishing around Goma (North Kivu). Two days of shellfire (probably mortar fire) has wounded 15 civilians in Goma.  At least one child was killed by shellfire. The fire came from M23 rebel positions.


The World Bank has promised central Africa $1 billion in aid. Congo will get money for medical services, education and electrical generation projects.


May 20, 2013: At least 19 soldiers and rebel fighters were killed when M23 rebels fought with a pro-government militia group north of Goma. The government said it lost four Congolese Army soldiers and that the rebels lost 15 killed. Observers described the fighting as the heaviest in the area since November 2012.

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18 avril 2013 4 18 /04 /avril /2013 16:09
SANDF will be part of UN DRC intervention brigade

18 April 2013 by defenceWeb

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma, has confirmed that South Africa will be part of the recently announced UN intervention brigade that will undertake offensive operations in the DRC.

According to an official Presidency statement, he has authorised until the end of April next year: “The employment of 1 267 SANDF personnel in the DRC for service in fulfilment of international obligations of South Africa towards the United Nations. The members were employed in the DRC for the period April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, to participate in the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC and will continue in this mission”.

The same statement also informed the country another 11 SANDF members would be based in the DRC until April 2014 to assist with capacity building of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) with a further 67 South African soldiers to be deployed as trainers for the FARDC.

Zuma also approved the deployment of 850 SANDF members to Darfur as part of the hybrid AU/UN operation in that country. This deployment is also effective until the end of April next year.

Zuma did not elaborate on whether the around 1 100 SANDF troops and support personnel currently in the DRC at Goma as part of MONUSCO (the UN operation in the Congo) would all join the intervention brigade but the numbers indicate there will be extra South Africans going to the central African country, probably at month-end.

South Africans will serve alongside soldiers from Malawi and Tanzania in the intervention brigade. No commander has yet been announced for the 3 069-strong brigade by the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission.

Each country will send an infantry battalion of 850 soldiers, amounting to 2 550 men. The remaining troops will come from an artillery company, a special forces company and a reconnaissance company. The brigade will operate under the command of a Tanzanian general, according to MONUSCO.

The intervention brigade, with a mandate to conduct “targeted offensive operations” against eastern DRC rebels, was approved by the UN Security Council on March 28. The landmark brigade has been given a mandate to conduct offensive operations, a first for UN peacekeepers.

defenceWeb earlier this week requested details of the brigade’s rules of engagement (ROE) but had not received any feedback from the Stabilisation Mission spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai at the time of publication.

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