Story by Allied Joint Force Command Naples Political Adviser and J4
It's shaping up to be a busy year for the NATO Senior Military Liaison Office with visits to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This year's main activities have included the fourth African Logistics Forum and the preparation and conduct of the two planned NATO Mobile Education and Training Team (METT) courses in May and June. The logistics forum took place last month. The most recent event brought together civilian and uniformed logistics experts, representing more than 30 African countries, representatives from the AU, member states, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms, European Union, United Nations, and various U.S. government agencies as well as multinational partners including NATO. The forum reviewed the relationships between the AU's developing Continental Logistic Base and Regional Logistic Depots and sought to make recommendations for effective operationalization and harmonization. The NATO METTs are an Exercise Planning Course, slated to occur this month, and an Operational Planning Process Course in June for the AU Commission and the five ASF Regional Economic Community Headquarters.
The NATO Senior Military Liaison Office to the African Union was established in 2005, in Addis Ababa, under the scope of NATO's Support to the African Union. The purpose of the office is to provide support to the AU, as requested by the African Union Commission, in particular to the development of the AU's peace support capacity and the ongoing operationalisation of the African Standby Forces.
Currently four Nations - France, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey - have been supporting the mission. This mission routinely runs with several NATO officers and enlisted troops based in the NATO office and some within the AU. The troops provide mentoring, capacity building and support directly to the AU in close cooperation with AU Peace Support Operation Division personnel from the Allied Joint Force Command Naples Peacetime Establishment.
The NATO Senior Military Liaison Office has developed strong relationships both inside and outside the AU through standing AU partner forums and the Addis Ababa defence attaché network.
"The networking is one of the keys of this mission. Concretely, it permits us during the tour to have quite easily the EASF (Eastern African Standby forces) facilities in order to conduct both METTs" said LTC Cyrille Montaru (FRA/A), deployed as leader of the team.
Office members regularly participate in monthly Military Attaché Association, or MAA, and Western Defence Attaché meetings. Ethiopia has the third largest diplomatic network in the world, and the members of the MAA comprise a high number of military attachés/advisors and liaison officers accredited to Ethiopia. The main objectives of the association are to enhance an exchange of ideas, interaction and ability to influence peace and security issues and policies affecting the African continent.
The NS2AU mission is an interesting and challenging one. The team has the opportunity to work with high level counterparts from AU, other key partners like the UN and the EU, and NGOs such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Oxfam.
"One to two times a week we have an activity in which international partners come together. This offers you the opportunity to communicate with each other on various subjects and make you quickly build an extensive network" said LTC Rob Snijders (NLD-A), currently deployed in Addis Ababa as deputy of the team.
Thanks to the Military Liaison Office, NATO actively maintains its network to support African Union in Addis Ababa, often referred to as "the political capital of Africa" for its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.