Enhancing strategic lift capabilities through regional cooperation: An exclusive look inside the Continental Movement Coordination Centre

By: Defence IQ

Can you give us a brief overview of the CMCC? How as it set up and what are its objectives?

The African Standby Force (ASF) is composed of multi-disciplinary and integrated military, police, and civilian components, located in contributing African countries with a Headquarters (HQ) Element at the African Union Commission (AUC), Addis Ababa. The force is designed to conduct mandated missions anywhere across the African Continent and provide the African Union (AU) with capabilities to respond to conflicts through the deployment of integrated peace missions and interventions. However, operationalising the ASF particularly in the last 10 years has faced several challenges such as political decision making process, renewed commitment by AU member states on the availability of forces, and the framework for employment, logistics support, predictable and sustainable funding as well as the issue of strategic lift.

"It is essential to note that continental strategic lift cannot be limited to aviation lift only but rather expanded to cover considerations for the utilisation of road, rail and sea lift for strategic movement of forces"

Specifically on the latter, it is obvious that for the AU to be able to project its forces and respond quickly to conflict situations on the continent, it must have the capacity to project these forces in the best possible way optimising the utilisation of the available resources. It is essential to note that continental strategic lift cannot be limited to aviation lift only but rather expanded to cover considerations for the utilisation of road, rail and sea lift for strategic movement of forces as may be applicable or suitable. A very important aspect of strategic lift is therefore the coordination of issues among the parties involved in the operations. Keeping that in mind, the aim of the CMCC is to provide an effective, efficient and safe and secured product and management of strategic lift operations for the African Standby Force. It will be responsible for the overall planning, routing, scheduling, tracking and control of passenger and freight movements over the lines of communication using the MoU, TCC/PCC Guidelines, AU Common Cost document and the COE Manual as its key guidance documents.

How have the MCCE and other international partners assisted in the development of the organisation?

The AU engagement with the MCCE dates back 2014 and perhaps beyond. One major engagement that comes to mind is when the officers from the MCCE were seconded by the African Union during the Continental wide field training exercise dubbed “Amani Africa II FTX” held in Lohatla in South Africa in October – November 2015 the period for which I served as the acting Chief of the CMCC. On the support from our strategic partners, as we prefer to call them, such as the EU, EUMS, NATO, the UN have and continue to provide tremendous support to the AU in realising the establishment and operationalisation of the CMCC and the Regional Movement Coordination Centres (RMCCs) within the five regions within the continent in providing strategic lift capability to the ASF. The UK is the latest strategic partner to the AU in this same effort.

Do you foresee there being any challenges around the disparity in capabilities across member countries?

55 Member States are making up the total of the African Union challenges abound, but the key is not to focus on this but rather to look at the benefits of what the diversity brings. In the past year, the AU conducted Strategic Lift Assessment visit to the Regions (RECs/RMs) in order to assess gaps and needs to harmonise processes and procedures. The action plan and roadmap for the operationalisation of the CMCC and RMCCs that were recently developed takes into consideration these disparities and sort to harmonise activities across the structures.

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