June 5, 2013:
In May the AU (African Union) agreed, again, to form a quick-reaction force (the ASF or African Standby Force). This idea has been kicking around for over a decade, but there were never enough countries ready to contribute troops, equipment, and, most important of all, cash. The original plan was to form a force of 30,000 troops and have it ready by 2010. That didn’t happen and the embarrassing situation of France (assisted by Chad) going into northern Mali in January 2013 spurred the AU to finally nail down a deal that would have a force of 5,000 ready by 2015. This could still fall apart, but two of the strongest nations in sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia and South Africa) are taking the lead. These two could form the ASF all by themselves but they want more major nations (like Uganda and Nigeria) to get involved as well.
The plan involves having contributing nations make available infantry and support units, trained to an agreed upon standard, always ready to go within a week, or at most 30 days, notice. Contributing nations must be able to offer cash and specialized equipment as well. The key is for all involved to meet their obligations. This has always been a problem, given the high level of corruption found in armed forces throughout Africa. But the AU does not want to be so dependent on non-African (especially American and European) forces. There is a humiliation factor here, with African nations constantly going begging to non-Africans to deal with peacekeeping emergencies inside Africa.