Posts Tagged 'FARDC'

USAFRICOM-related news stories for April 6, 2010 (From the Beltway/From and About Africa)

Recent Publications on Algeria, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia, Egypt, DR Congo, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, South Africa, Morocco, Somalia, Darfur, Niger, Kenya

US advises against long delay in Sudan elections (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – The United States urged Sudan on Monday not to have a long delay in the staging of Sudan’s first multiparty elections in a quarter-century, set for this month.

Equatorial Guinea Minister Seeks Strong Ties With U.S (Voice of America)

An Equatorial Guinea cabinet minister says President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government wants to strengthen “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration.

Goodluck Jonathan calls on Barack Obama (Sun News online)

Goodluck Jonathan gets his first experience as “president” next week when he visits the U.S. at the invitation of President Barack Obama.

For additional relevant articles of interest, go to: &


USAFRICOM-related news stories for March 25, 2010 (From the Beltway/From and About Africa)

Recent Publications on Liberia, Sudan, DR Congo, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Niger, Libya, Somalia, Burundi, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast

‘You Are Making Your Country Proud of the Army’ (Daily Observer)

General William E. ‘Kip’ Ward, Commander, United States (US) Africa Command (AFRICOM) says the American government is proud of the re-vetted personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

AFRICOM to sharpen skills of military (Joy Online)

The First United States – Africa Command Inspector General (IG) outreach conference opened at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) with the aim to help African military leaders champion standards, performance and also illustrate how the work of the IG system contributes to the fight against crime and corruption.

UN mission in DR Congo vows continued support for army (Xinhua)

KINSHASA, DRC – The special representative of the UN secretary general in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Alan Doss, confirmed on Tuesday in Kinshasa about the continued support from the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUC) for the country’s armed forces (FARDC).

For additional relevant articles of interest, go to:

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Hard Question to our Website – AFRICOM and DRC

Posted on Vince Crawley’s Africa Blog on February 24, 2010:

When AFRICOM Works with DRC Troops, How Do We Know Our Training Won’t be Used Against Civilian Population?

U.S. Africa Command recently began working with the Light Infantry Battalion program in the DRC, with the goal of training a model battalion for the DRC military (known as the FARDC). This is an initiative by the U.S. Department of State, with the U.S. military in support.

A couple of days ago, an anonymous visitor posted a newspaper article on our Website about human rights abuses by militaries in the Congo. After the article, our visitor added,

I read this article and thought to myself, why are more people not getting involved?. The USA protects most other countries from things like this. Why do we Americans just turn our heads and look the other way? These people are dieing, suffering from hunger, disease, and the people that are ment to protect them are murdering them.”

Shortly after this posting came into our Website, we had a group of African journalists visiting us in Stuttgart. One of their main questions was, If the United States trains African militaries and improves their capability, how can we guarantee these well-trained troops won’t attack civilian populations or overthrow their government?

There are no easy answers, and these questions deserve thoughtful response. So, in consultation with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, as well as with officials in Washington, we crafted an answer to the question and posted it on our website.

The question was in response to an article about U.S. Africa Command’s General Ward visiting the DRC in April 2009.– When the public provides feedback to our articles, the feedback appears directly below the main article, and our Public Affairs response then appears below the question.

The public feedback on our site read as follows, beginning with a story in the U.K. Guardian newspaper told through the eyes of a victim of violence in the DRC:

On 2/22/2010 10:24:49 PM, Anonymous in Unspecified said:

Congo: “The soldiers meant to protect us are the same ones killing people”

Mupole Natabaro, 30, from Musurundi, recalls being gang-raped and left for dead by government troops who killed her family.
(by David Smith in Goma, Friday 5 February 2010 19.03 GMT)

One day the FDLR rebels attacked the government soldiers’ positions. They fought but the FDLR was not strong enough so they ran into the forest.
Then the government army came to the village. They said they were coming to protect us but they were nervous and their behaviour changed. They raped and killed people and burned them in their houses. Many died that day.
I was hiding in the bush near the village. I heard that my parents, younger brothers and three sons were killed on the same day.
I was running in the forest and met a government soldier. He took me and raped me. After that he went to call his colleagues to do the same thing. Five of them raped me. I felt bad. I was hurt in my stomach.
The soldiers took off all my clothes and left me in the forest. To the people who found me, I was like a dead person. They carried me to a nearby village and took care of me.
When my husband heard about what happened to me he said he could not live with me any more he could not be my husband any more. When I heard that I was really shocked. I have no parents, no children, no husband. It’s a bad situation. I’m not even able to buy soap.
I was shocked that the soldiers who came to protect us did this. If it was the FDLR I could understand better, but with the government army, it’s insane. They were former CNDP [another armed rebel group].
It’s not wrong for the UN to support government soldiers, but the soldiers meant to protect us are the same ones killing people.
It seems like this is the end of my life. I don’t know if I will survive after this. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I have hope in God. Only God knows the future. Maybe God can send good people to help me get better.
I still think about that day. When I think of my parents and sons and the poverty and misery I now live in, I don’t have peace. When I think about those government soldiers I’m angry, but at church they teach us to forgive. I sometimes say to God: Forgive those guys. [END of ARTICLE]

I read this article and thought to myself, why are more people not getting involved?. The USA protects most other countries from things like this. Why do we Americans just turn our heads and look the other way? These people are dieing, suffering from hunger, disease, and the people that are ment to protect them are murdering them. Anyone on this planet that can just forget what is goin on in the Ccongo and not say their peace, or do something to help is just as bad as the murderers and rapists. I watched a viedo of a man 19 years old that was from Rowanda say that if at time of war it is ok to rape the women. What are we teaching our children? In any country, this is wrong.

Our reply is below. Ordinarily I sign these answers myself, but this really was a team effort, including thoughtful input from several people.

On 2/24/2010 5:37:26 PM, AFRICOM Public Affairs responded

Thank you for sharing this poignant article and furthering awareness of this issue. Tragic stories like these, involving women and children, are an unfortunate reality in the DRC.

It is our mission at U.S. Africa Command to work with the DRC and other African partners to, over time, prevent conflict and instability that lead to violence, destruction, and reduce the quality of life of people throughout Africa. We are partnering with African militaries to create more stable environments in which democratic institutions can develop and assistance can reach those who need it the most. A key part to this objective is the reform of the country’s military to ensure it protects, rather than preys upon, its people.

On Feb. 17, 2009, U.S. and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) representatives gathered near Kisangani to mark the establishment of a light infantry battalion, which is intended to be a model unit for the future of the Congolese military. (See article at .) The soldiers of this unit will undergo 6 to 8 months of training, as part of a U.S. government partnership with the DRC government. This training will support the DRC with its desire to transform its military into a professional, accountable and sustainable institution that provides meaningful security to the people of DRC. Human rights considerations and the respect for human rights in military operations will be incorporated into each aspect of the training, so as to prevent instances of rape and abuse described in the article you mention. In accordance with the Leahy Amendment of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, recipients of U.S. military training and assistance have been vetted through the U.S. Department of State for human rights abuses.

The main objective of the training is to develop a more professional DRC military force that respects civilian authority, protects its nation and citizenry, and contributes to regional stability.

In separate but related activities, US Africa Command legal experts have been involved with this issue for nearly three years now, primarily with the teaching of seminars through the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies. The goal of the many of the seminars is to address sex- and gender-based violence in the DRC by strengthening the capacities of the investigators and magistrates in the military justice system to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and in turn to move the FARDC closer to its goal of attaining professional, disciplined military standards.

We all hope that over time, stories like this one become less common, as the international community works together with the DRC, African nations and global partners towards a more stable, secure and prosperous DRC and Africa.

With deep respect,
The U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs team

For more on this issue, please see a group of articles I posted to our Website two years ago, in February 2008: U.S. Military Legal Experts Train DR Congo Military in Preventing, Prosecuting Sex Crimes

This includes a U.S. Embassy press release about  a U.S. military workshop on gender-based violence issues, as well as a United Nation press release on the same issue.

U.S. and DRC in Partnership to Train Model Congolese Battalion

By Nicole Dalrymple
U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb 18, 2010 — U.S. and Democratic Republic of Congo representatives gathered February 17, 2010, at a military base outside of Kisangani in north-central DRC to mark the establishment of a light infantry battalion intended to be a model unit for the future of the Congolese military. Representatives of the United Nations and the international community also attended.

The train-and-equip mission, part of a long-term, multi-lateral U.S.-DRC partnership to promote security sector reform in the country, will assist the DRC government in its ongoing efforts to transform the Armed Forces of the DRC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, widely known as FARDC).

The training is intended to increase the ability of the Congolese army to conduct effective internal security operations as part of the FARDC’s rapid reaction plan, help preserve the territorial integrity of the DRC, and develop an army that is accountable to the Congolese people. This initiative also represents one aspect of a long-term, multiagency, international approach to promote a sustainable peace through the creation of a model unit in the FARDC.

Brigadier General Jean-Claude Kifwa, commander of FARDC’s 9th Region, spoke at the ceremony, saying he thought it was a sign of progress that a quick reaction force was being established in his region.

“I’d like to thank the authorities of my country for choosing Kisangani to be the center of quick reaction forces,” Kifwa said. “I think this is progress in the reform of our new army.” He said that the battalion’s main mission would be to protect the territorial borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congolese people and their goods.

During the ceremony, Ambassador William Garvelink, U.S. Ambassador to the DRC, emphasized the commitment of both governments, saying, “The United States of America and the Democratic Republic of Congo are committed to a partnership to train and professionalize a FARDC battalion that will respect and protect the Congolese people. As with all our military training, our objective is straightforward. We seek, with the support and assistance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to develop a professional force that respects civilian authority and that provides security to all citizens of this country.”

Members of the newly formed light infantry battalion will undergo a 6-8 month training program at the Base Camp in Kisangani. The training will cover small unit tactics, food preparation, maintenance, medical care and first aid, logistics support, HIV/AIDS prevention and communications. Human rights considerations and the respect for human rights in military operations will be incorporated in each aspect of the training.

“The commanders, staff officers and noncommissioned officers who will lead this battalion began their training last year in Kinshasa,” Garvelink explained. He added that the battalion’s soldiers were all carefully selected by the FARDC to “ensure the highest caliber of trainees possible.”

U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM), via its Special Operations Command component, is providing on-the-ground oversight of the training program, which will be taught by U.S. military personnel and Department of State-hired contractors.

Senior leadership from U.S. Africa Command traveled to Kisangani from the command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. In attendance were Ambassador Anthony Holmes, deputy to the commander for civil-military activities; Major General Richard Sherlock, director of the command’s Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate; and the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, Brigadier General Christopher Haas.

Guests at the ceremony included representatives from the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), the European Communications Security and Evaluation Agency (EUSEC), and civil society leaders, including members of the religious communities, human rights groups, University of Kisangani authorities, and local and national press.

A news conference followed the ceremony allowing members of the press and civil society leaders to ask questions of representatives from the U.S. and DRC governments.

Several members of the press and civil society asked whether U.S. Africa Command was building a base in the DRC.

“Africa command is not looking to move a headquarters to the continent of Africa,” said Sherlock of the U.S. AFRICOM Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate. “Our efforts with our partners in the FARDC are designed to grow capacity within the FARDC to grow a professional battalion that is responsible to a civilian government and to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our efforts are not about Africa Command. Our efforts are in support of our partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The light infantry battalion training is taking place at a camp that belongs to the DRC, and the decision to establish the battalion outside of Kisangani was made by the Congolese government, as explained by Brigadier General Kifwa.

When asked about any possible hidden policy agenda of the United States in the Congo, Ambassador Garvelink answered, “The interest of the United States in the Congo is to see a democratic, representative government that takes care of its people and is at peace with its neighbors. That’s what our objective is.”

“We are training an initial battalion,” Garvelink added, “and hopefully that’s a platform from which additional training of Congolese troops can be done by very well trained Congolese troops. So we hope that the training will continue and expand under the direction and leadership of the Congolese military itself.”

Inauguration of a new Light Infantry Battalion that will be trained via a U.S. government partnership with the DRC

Inauguration of a new Light Infantry Battalion that will be trained via a U.S. government partnership with the DRC

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