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Congo: The experts are on the other side of the river

Arms depot at Camp Kokolo in Kinshasa (credit: EUSEC/European Union)

(BRUSSELS2) Faced with the explosion of a munitions depot in Congo (Brazzaville), Europe has some experience in securing weapons. No need to look far... Just cross the river, in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The security assistance mission deployed by the European Union (EUSEC) began work in 2011-2012 to secure weapons. “ We have identified two problems: the circulation of weapons. But also a very concrete problem of weapons storage. We have a real risk of explosion confided to me not long ago an expert on the dossier at the Eusec mission.

NB: if such a program had been carried out in Congo Brazzaville, on the other side of the river, perhaps we could have avoided the worst... It is remarkable to see that at the European level, a compartmentalization continues to exist between PeSDC defense missions and other aspects of European action (development, civil protection, etc.) despite the existence of the new structures put in place by the Lisbon Treaty.

Inexpensive security

Thus an armaments storage system has been set up at the Kokolo camp, with the creation of well-separated storage rooms, with limited access (with armored doors) and temperate. Cost for the two deposits: 10.000 euros. Which is really minimal. Such equipment is intended as a model. " It's not about doing high technology. But to have devices that can be easily reproduced elsewhere. » The logistical emphasis is also one of the priorities defined by the Congolese armed forces for 2012, with the support of the European mission.

Training, the keystone of the EUSEC mission

A little additional word on this mission which carries out discreet work in a difficult context. The important work consists of re-establishing the training institutions of the armies, at all levels. the project started in January 2010. The Kananga School of Administration has been rehabilitated, as have the premises intended to accommodate trainees, trainers and their families.

The Military Academy has started operating again, after being closed for more than 15 years…. It should simultaneously train up to around 400 students, a situation which will normally be reached in 2013 when the Military Academy will have completed the training of the 26th promotion and recruited three contingents of trainees. Part of the aid consisted of ensuring the rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure, as well as the installation of equipment, financed by the European Commission. But the bulk of the work of the Europeans was to help establish the content of the training courses for officer cadets, to determine the selection process for trainees... and teachers and to prepare the instruction manuals (a mission also carried out with with the help of a Belgian military partnership program to train trainers). We had to start from scratch: from basic school materials (notebooks, pens) to textbooks.

The training is aimed at non-commissioned officers (second lieutenant, lieutenant, etc.) who sometimes already have rank in the army but have never received training. The least of the difficulties was not managing to mix the different origins of the trainees, a European officer told B2: “ A balance had to be found between the different regions », in particular from the provinces of Kasai, Bandundu and Maniema.

Read also: The MIC triggered after the explosions in Brazzaville

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).