The central region of the African continent has prompted much interest in the international community over the last few years, an interest motivated not only by the political instability experienced in several states in that region, but also by growing terrorism. The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the states to which some attention has been drawn, fostered by the action of a myriad of actors who proliferate in the territory with different interests. In 2013, CAR suffered a “coup d'état” that removed the former President Francois Bozize, and caused the collapse of the main state pillars. The insecurity experienced in many cities in the country, in which all kinds of crimes were committed, motivated a French and African Union military intervention, with the aim of restoring security in the country. CAR Armed Forces (FACA) no longer functioned as a State organization, which was why, following a request from the CAR authorities, the European Union authorized in 2016 the launch of a non-executive mission, the European Union Training Mission in the CAR (EUTM-CAR), which, in coordination with the United Nations and other International Organizations present in the territory, started to contribute to the strengthening of State authority throughout the country. EUTM-RCA arose subsequent to the stability conditions guaranteed by the previous European Union missions (EUFOR-RCA and EUMAM-RCA).
Mission and organization
EUTM-RCA's main purpose is to contribute with its strategic advisory and military support action towards a modern, effective, ethnically balanced and democratically responsible FACAs. The current EUTM-RCA commander, Brigadier-General Paulo Neves de Abreu from Portugal, took over the mission in September 18, 2020. At the same time EUTM-RCA started the third Mandate that will remain in effect until September 2022. The mission daily activities are carried out essentially in Bangui (RCA capital) and in BOUAR, however, the current Mandate foresees the EUTM expansion to the cities of N'Dele and Bangassou, with the possibility to increase the mission’s personnel up to 365 elements. EUTM-RCA focuses its activity on three fundamental pillars:
Current situation in the Theater of Operations
The CAR National Defence Plan foresees that the Armed Forces will move from a "Projection" concept to a "Garrison" concept. This change will dictate the deployment of FACA troops throughout CAR territory. Currently, despite the joint efforts of the Government, EUTM-RCA and other International Organizations in the Theatre of Operations, it has not yet been possible to fully implement this project. Recently, following the presidential elections of 27 December 2020, the country's political and security situation was "plunged" into a new crisis. The constitutional court decision, which prevented the candidacy of former President François Bozize, led to the creation of a new coalition, "Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement" (CPC), which includes elements of active Armed Groups in the territory. This coalition, which was fragmented over time, still persists, a situation which has forced the military commitment of the FACA.
The constant clashes between the CPC armed elements and FACA have complicated the normal activity of the mission. As a non-executive mission, focused on FACA advising and training, EUTM requires the collaboration and presence of FACA military personnel in its daily activities, which has not been the case in recent weeks. Despite this reality, the results achieved so far have been very encouraging with regard to the mission accomplishment.
Since the current EUTM-RCA Command (18SET20), more than 2400 FACA troops have been trained including the basic training, “Formation Élémentaire Tout Type d’Armes” (FETTA), and staffs. Due to the Train the Trainers (TtT) courses and specialist´s courses, FACA’s Instructors are prepared and mentored by EUTM RCA during their actions. The specialties taught include areas such as Combat First Aid Monitors, Certificat Administration et Secretariat, Certificat Technique 2ème degré Administration, Logistics Quick Impact Course, Certificat Technique 2ème degré Emploi Reseaux Mobiles, among others. The training also includes lectures on human rights and gender equality.
In terms of collective training, we highlight the attention given to the training of the FACA Amphibious Battalion. This training is extremely important to ensure security and freedom of movement in CAR's floodplains. It will enable the soldiers of this battalion to become more competent in carrying out missions in the areas of VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure), TCCC (Tactical, Combat, and Casualty Care), Maritime Security, Self-Defence, River Operations and vessel maintenance.
It is also important to highlight the formation of a new Battalion, the bataillon d'infanterie territoriale n° 7 (BIT 7). Created by decree of the President of the Republic of Central Africa, Faustin-Archange TOUADERA, the BIT 7 will become part of the structure of the CAR Armed Forces in the coming months. The training of this Battalion has been entrusted to EUTM-RCA and is involving soldiers from all the pillars of the mission. This project, in addition to including the formation and collective training, which should occur by the end of July, also includes a series of medium / long term structural projects at the level of infrastructure and equipment needed for this Battalion. BIT7 has in its composition 662 FACA troops.
In addition to the activities developed by the 3 Pillars, EUTM-RCA Commander holds regular meetings with CAR President of the Republic, to whom he is an advisor, with the Minister of Defence, with FACA Chief of the armed Forces and with the Head of the Delegation of the European Union in CAR.
As already mentioned, EUTM-RCA works daily towards the goal of achieving modern, effective, ethnically balanced and democratically accountable FACAs. However, there are several factors, which do not depend on EUTM-RCA or the fulfilment of its mission, which make it difficult for this objective to be achieved. The availability of various items to support training, such as appropriate personal equipment, specific weapons for training/operations, and ammunition, are essential for proper training.
The European Union, which had until now a limited capacity to intervene financially in the ongoing operations and missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy, has now available a new financial instrument, the European Peace Facility, which will enable it to respond to some of the above needs in support of FACA. The aim of this instrument will be to increase the effectiveness of Operations, to support missions led by international partners and to support capacity building of partner countries' Armed Forces, which contribute to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and the resolution of security issues.