The New Times Kigali
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Nearly 100 military and civilian delegates from across Africa have convened in Kigali to attend a two-day workshop dedicated to the improvement of the quality of African professional military education (PME).

The second Annual Africa Military Education Programme (AMEP) workshop, which started Monday, is, according to the organisers, designed to bolster the performance of selected African PME institutions through strategic investments in human and institutional capacity.

Opening the workshop, Maj. Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura, Commandant of Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College-Nyakinama, said it is a very significant meeting in a sense that it is going to deal with the issue of strengthening PME « in our respective institutions » especially in the areas faculty development and the improvement of curriculum design and content.

Kazura added, « This workshop will provide all the participants not only essential knowledge about faculty development and curricula improvement, but it is also a great opportunity to share experiences in security issues for the benefit of our nations’ stability and development.

« The progress, so far, made in strengthening military professional education through AMEP has been a great landmark in enhancing military cooperation between the United States of America and several African countries, » he said, adding that this will continue to improve African military capabilities to consolidate peace and security.

Encompassing schools, universities, and training programmes designed to foster leadership in military service members, PME refers to the professional training, development, and schooling of military personnel.

The inaugural AMEP workshop, held in Washington, D.C., last year, reviewed progress, highlighted key lessons for future programme development and helped inform defence institution strengthening in Africa.

Building on last year’s edition, workshops objective is to continue strengthening partnerships across and within African PME institutions. The Kigali workshop is regarded as an opportunity to asses current activities, examine progress, and learn lessons.

The results of the discussions, the organisers, the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS), said, will help inform the strategic direction of AMEP, improve its administration, promote regional collaboration and encourage professional networking.

The ACSS is a U.S. Department of Defence institution established and funded by the USA Congress for the study of security issues relating to Africa and serving as a forum for bilateral and multilateral research, communication, and exchange of ideas involving military and civilian participants.

According to a concept paper by the ACSS, through panel discussions and breakout groups, participants will capture lessons learned in faculty development and improving curriculum design.

Through AMEP, partner countries should be better positioned to enhance the capacity of PME faculty, sharpen the effectiveness of select curricula, and monitor the impact of enhanced professional military education on security sector professionalisation.

Kazura told participants that gone are the days when countries would think they would find solutions to their problems by « working in isolation. »

The only way to reverse threatening situations and rid the continent of most of the problems it grapples with, he said, is to put efforts together through partnership and collaboration in different ways and « to deepen and broaden our already existing excellent relations. »

Interoperability

Kazura, a decorated former Force Commander of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), also put emphasis on the workshop’s likely impact on the ability of different military organisations – of different nationalities or different armed services or both – on the continent to conduct joint operations.

According to Kazura, harmonisation and standardisation of faculty development and curricula improvement would be beneficial to military institutions on the continent « especially on interoperability. »

« All of us would agree that interoperability is very much needed to ensure our forces’ effectiveness in various theatres, especially in peace operations.

« We have all been witnesses at one time or another to the challenges we encounter while executing multinational missions and this has demonstrated the limits of African troops’ interoperability, » he said.

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