Bottom-Up or Top-Down? The Need for a Relevant, ‘Grounded’ and Distinguishing Peace Operations Doctrine for the African Standby Force (ASF)

The African Standby Force (ASF) is an international, continental, multidisciplinary peacekeeping force that serves as one of the five components of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) of the African Union. It acts under the direction of the AU and is deployed to respond to African crises and conflicts.

This paper examines the development of common doctrine and guidance to support the operations of the ASF. It explains the role of doctrine in multinational peace-support operations (PSOs), reviews the doctrinal experiences of some African troop contributing countries (TCCs), analyses the role of multinational, regional and national organizations in supporting doctrinal development, and concludes with a case study of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). It suggests that:

  1. A realistic common doctrine for ASF-led ‘peace operations’ ought to be developed. This doctrine should recognize emerging trends that affect crises and conflicts in Africa, and reflect the experiences of African peace operations to date.
  2. Doctrine development should be facilitated through increased institutional capacity. First, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) should encourage and support its members in developing the capacity and culture of doctrine development at the national level; second, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) should be encouraged to revise existing and develop new peace operations doctrine, and finally, the capacities of the AU Peace and Security Department (PSOD) and the planning elements (PLANELM) hosted by each REC and the PSOD should be bolstered.
  3. Efforts should be made to harmonise approaches to training for peace operations at the regional level; these will support both “UN Peacekeeping’ and ‘ASF Peace Operations’.

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