Brooks Tigner, Brussels | IHS Jane’s 360
The first battalion for the new Central African Armed Forces (FACA) should be fully formed and trained by mid-2017, the commander of the European Union Training Mission in the Central African Republic (EUTM RCA) has said.
Addressing reporters in Brussels on 16 November, Major General Eric Hautecloque said the FACA’s first company of 170 infantry should be trained by the end of December.
The training of two more FACA companies begins in January, leading to the formation of the first battalion by summer 2017. “We need seven months to train a battalion,” he said, adding that EUTM RCA aims to train up to four battalions by the end of its current two-year mandate.
EUTM RCA was launched on 16 July 2016 with EU funding of EUR12.4 million (USD13.3 million) and 170 personnel.
Maj Gen Hautecloque’s team will also help the FACA reconstruct its military academy to help turn out a professional officer corps. EUTM RCA has trained 20 officers since September, when the mission reached initial operational capability.
EUTM RCA is under pressure to train a 7,000-strong force as quickly as possible, Maj Gen Hautecloque observed.
“We hear repeatedly from the government to hurry up because it needs to deploy FACA because their security is mainly guaranteed by MINUSCA,” he said, referring to the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) peacekeeping force.
The FACA currently lacks all but the most rudimentary equipment, while its defence ministry requires a complete structural overhaul, he said.
“There are high expectations on the part the CAR’s people for us to help rebuild the country’s security forces. This is a difficult task, however, because its government structures are in such disarray,” he said. “There is a low level of competence among the recruits, but this is compensated by their pride and enthusiasm to be trained.”