SADC army to arrive  in two weeks

SADC army to arrive in two weeks

MASERU – A regional standby army is expected to arrive in the country within the next two weeks after the SADSC Double Troika last Friday approved Lesotho’s urgent request for military support. SADC has also agreed to increase the size of its Oversight Committee in Lesotho pending the arrival of its standby army.

Additional members of the oversight committee which has been increased from 12 to 34 are expected to arrive next “Monday or much earlier”, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi, who presented Lesotho’s case at the SADC Double Troika summit last Friday.
The committee will include some soldiers, military intelligence officers and communication experts. It will be here permanently for a month.
In his report to the SADC Council of Ministers Makgothi requested a standby force of between 300 and 400 soldiers to be stationed here during the implementation of the security reforms.

Makgothi however told thepost last night that his colleagues were of the view that a battalion would not be enough to deal with the security situation in Lesotho. He said they recommended that SADC’s security chiefs assess the situation before deciding how many soldiers Lesotho needs.
“Those chiefs started working on the number last Friday and they are expected to report back soon,” Makgothi said.

He said the chiefs will rely on the intelligence report from the oversight committee but will also conduct their own assessment.
“For instance, the security chiefs would have to take an inventory of the missing ammunition to understand how much is missing from the military barracks.”

“If there is a lot missing then it might mean that we actually need more soldiers to assist.” The minister said although the standby army’s core mandate is to act as an early warning mechanism it will also use its time in Lesotho to help improve the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
“They will train our army to change their perspective so that they understand their proper role and mandate to the country,” Makgothi said.

“In addition they will also be training between 100 and 200 LDF soldiers to be ready to be deployed on peacekeeping missions in other countries.
A report by the SADC Defence Intelligence Standing Committee painted a picture of a lawless army that has no respect for command.
It said there was “lack of professionalism, acute indiscipline and failure to observe and respect the command structure” within the army’s rank and file “which manifests itself into a high degree of disobedience”.

The report also noted that there is “lack of trust between the security structures and lack of control and accountability of arms and ammunition.

Staff Reporter

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