A Stitch in Time Would have Saved Nine: Operationalising the African Standby Force

"The African Standby Force(ASF)was envisaged as a tool for timely response and intervention in post-cold war conflicts that were ravaging the continent. Initial attempts in 1995 and 1997 to bring the force into operation stalled, but renewed efforts were undertaken in 2003, when the ASF Policy Framework set timelines for the operationalisation of the force by 2010. Given subsequent delays, there are now concerns about when and whether the ASF will ever come into force. This policy brief reviews the salient factors affecting the progress made to date, and the policy challenges militating against the force’s timely operationalisation. Its broad recommendations highlight policy options to realign the concept of the ASF, bring the force into existence, and reappraise what role and functions it should be organised and equipped to undertake and in what conflict situations. The brief does not cover training and other purely operational dimensions of the ASF project."