The second Africa-India joint military exercise from 21-29 March is a key element to India’s diplomatic ties with African countries. 24 African militaries were represented by their contingents or teams of observers. The inaugural event of the second edition of the Africa-India Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX 2023) began at the Foreign Training Node of the Indian Army located at the Aundh Military Station in Pune on March 21. The ten-day exercise focused on Humanitarian Mine Assistance and United Nations Peacekeeping Operations(UNPKF). The multinational military drill will promote the idea of Africa-India Militaries for Regional Unity (AMRUT) and will focus on incorporating the current dynamics of UNPKF through comprehensive discussions and tactical exercises.
The collective effort will also focus on achieving the desired interoperability and cohesive operational ability of the troops from all participating nations.
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Sanskrit: वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्) or “The World Is One Family” or all living beings on the earth are a family has been the favourite theme of Prime Minster Shri Narendra Modi all along. The theme and the logo for India’s G20 Presidency are “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth-One Future”.” The Bhagvad Gita, calls the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam the “Loftiest Vedantic Thought.” This is what is expected to be achieved through the Second Africa-India joint military exercise.
India-Africa Army Chiefs Conclave On March 28 And 29
Pune will also host the strategically significant India-Africa Army Chiefs Conclave, on March 28 and 29. The conclave will include talks by renowned speakers on the India-Africa Defense partnership, the Indian defence industry’s potential and contribution towards regional security.
India has been one of the biggest contributors of troops to UN Peacekeeping Operations all over the world and the country’s Army is considered to be among the expert agencies in the world in mine removal operations.
Some war-torn countries in Africa face the problem of landmines and Unexploded Ordnance, often referred to as UXO. The joint exercise with India will benefit the participating countries greatly. The exercise is also being looked at as a key element of India’s diplomatic ties with African countries.
War-torn countries in Africa facing the problem of landmines and Unexploded Ordnance.
Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) missions are carried out to address the problem of landmines and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in war-torn countries in Africa. These missions involve the clearance of explosive remnants of war (ERW) and the provision of education and awareness programs to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
To carry out HMA missions more effectively, the following steps need to be taken:
- Conducting Needs Assessments: The first step in HMA missions is to conduct needs assessments to determine the extent of the problem and the areas that require clearance.
- Developing a Comprehensive Strategy: Based on the needs assessment, a comprehensive strategy will be developed, which includes a prioritization of areas for clearance and the selection of appropriate clearance methods and techniques.
- Conducting Clearance Operations: Clearance operations will be conducted using appropriate methods and techniques, such as manual or mechanical demining, depending on the specific conditions on the ground.
- Education and Awareness Programs: Education and awareness programs will be provided to local communities to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. This includes educating people about the dangers of ERW, how to identify and report ERW, and how to stay safe in areas affected by landmines and UXO.
- Ensuring Quality Assurance: Clearance operations should be subject to quality assurance measures to ensure that they are carried out safely and effectively.
- Developing Partnerships: HMA missions require partnerships with local communities, governments, and other stakeholders to ensure that the clearance of landmines and UXO is sustainable and effective.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: HMA missions should be subject to monitoring and evaluation to measure their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.
HMA missions require a comprehensive and coordinated approach that involves needs assessments, strategy development, clearance operations, education and awareness programs, quality assurance, partnerships, and monitoring and evaluation.
Narcotics terrorism a significant challenge
Narcotics terrorism is a significant challenge that Africa faces, particularly in the West and Central African regions. This phenomenon involves the convergence of drug trafficking with terrorist activities, where terrorist organizations are involved in the production, transit, and distribution of illicit drugs to fund their operations.
To tackle narcotics terrorism in Africa, several strategies can be employed:
- Strengthening Law Enforcement: This involves improving the capacity of law enforcement agencies to detect, interdict, and prosecute those involved in narcotics terrorism. This could be achieved by enhancing border control, intelligence gathering and sharing, and developing specialized anti-drug trafficking units.
- Disrupting Supply Chains: To disrupt the supply chains of narcotics terrorism, it is essential to target the sources of illicit drug production and transit routes. This can be achieved through interdiction operations, such as seizures of drug shipments and the arrest of drug traffickers.
- Targeting Financial Flows: It is also important to target the financial flows of narcotics terrorism, by freezing assets and blocking the access of terrorists to the formal financial system. This can be achieved by increasing international cooperation and sharing of financial intelligence, as well as by implementing effective regulatory and supervisory frameworks.
- Promoting Regional Cooperation: Narcotics terrorism is a transnational threat that requires a coordinated response. To tackle this challenge effectively, it is necessary to promote regional cooperation among African countries, including sharing of intelligence, joint operations, and capacity-building programs.
- Addressing Socio-Economic Drivers: To address the root causes of narcotics terrorism, it is important to address the underlying socio-economic factors that drive drug trafficking and terrorism. This could be achieved by promoting sustainable development policies, improving governance and rule of law, and providing alternative livelihood opportunities for those involved in the drug trade.
Tackling narcotics terrorism in Africa requires a comprehensive approach that involves law enforcement, disruption of supply chains, targeting financial flows, promoting regional cooperation, and addressing socio-economic drivers.
Security Challenges related to coastal and maritime security
The security challenges related to costal and maritime security include the following concerns:
- Illegal Fishing: Illegal fishing is a major challenge in Africa, which negatively impacts the economies of many African countries. It deprives the countries of much-needed revenue, affects the livelihoods of local fishermen, and contributes to food insecurity.
- Piracy: Piracy is a significant threat to maritime security in Africa, particularly off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Horn of Africa. Pirates target commercial ships, fishing boats, and pleasure craft, often using violence and kidnapping as a means of extracting ransom.
- Smuggling and Trafficking: The coastal waters of Africa are also used for the illegal smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people. This can be linked to transnational organized crime networks and is a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies.
- Environmental Degradation: The coastal waters of Africa are also facing environmental degradation due to pollution, overfishing, and other forms of human activity. This has a negative impact on both marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who rely on them.
To tackle these challenges, there are a number of strategies that can be employed.
- Enhancing maritime domain awareness: This involves improving the ability to monitor maritime traffic and detect illegal activities in coastal waters.
- Developing regional cooperation: Countries in Africa can work together to share information and resources, and to coordinate their efforts in tackling maritime security challenges.
- Strengthening law enforcement: This involves improving the capacity of maritime security agencies to patrol and monitor coastal waters, and to prosecute those engaged in illegal activities.
- Addressing the root causes: To address the challenges of illegal fishing, smuggling, and trafficking, it is important to address the underlying economic and social factors that drive these activities.
- Promoting sustainable development: To address environmental degradation, it is important to promote sustainable development practices that minimize the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems.
Addressing the challenges of coastal and maritime security in Africa requires a multi-faceted approach that involves a combination of law enforcement, regional cooperation, and sustainable development practices
Various United Nations peacekeeping operations going on in Africa
There are currently several United Nations peacekeeping operations ongoing in Africa. These include:
1. United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
2. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
3. United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT)
4. United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
5. United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA)
6. United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)
7. United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
Not all the UN missions are performing at optimum level. To improve the efficiency of UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, several measures can be taken, including:
- Clarifying the Mandate: The mandates of UN peacekeeping operations need to be clearly defined and prioritized to ensure that they are achievable and realistic.
- Enhancing Training and Support: UN peacekeeping troops should receive comprehensive training and support to enable them to carry out their duties effectively.
- Promoting Cooperation and Coordination: There should be greater cooperation and coordination between UN peacekeeping missions and host governments, regional organizations, and other stakeholders.
- Addressing Impunity: It is essential to ensure accountability for human rights violations committed by peacekeepers, including by providing victims with access to justice and remedies.
- Increasing Funding and Resources: UN peacekeeping missions in Africa require adequate funding and resources to carry out their tasks effectively. This includes ensuring that troops have the necessary equipment and logistics to operate in challenging environments.
- Addressing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: There is a need to ensure that UN peacekeeping operations promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, including by increasing the participation of women in peacekeeping operations.
Improving the efficiency of UN peacekeeping operations in Africa involves strengthening mandates, enhancing training and support, promoting cooperation and coordination, addressing impunity, increasing funding and resources, and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Promoting a collaborative approach to the capacity enhancement of African armies is important. What exactly should be the security Action Plan to enhance the security of Africa?
“Security Action Plan For Each African Country” should prioritize building the capacity of African armies, strengthening institutional and legal frameworks, promoting regional cooperation, and enhancing international partnerships.
Achieving a balance of interests and promoting cooperation among nations is essential to ensure that all nations can benefit from being part of one family. This is what India proposes to do in the second edition of the Africa-India Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX 2023). Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्).