NATO’s support to the AU started in 2005 with assistance to the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS). This was the Alliance’s first mission on the African continent and as such represents a landmark decision by the North Atlantic Council. Since then, NATO has committed to support other AU missions and objectives.
Assisting the AU in Somalia
NATO has accepted to assist the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by providing strategic airlift and sealift support to AU member states willing to deploy in Somalia under AMISOM. NATO has, for instance, put into practice airlift support from Burundi to Mogadishu and has escorted an AU ship that carried Burundi military equipment for one of the battalions that it had airlifted into Mogadishu.
NATO has also been providing subject matter experts for the PSOD that supports AMISOM. These experts offer expertise in areas such as maritime planning, strategic planning, financial planning and monitoring, air movement coordination, logistics, communication and information systems, military manpower management and contingency planning.
In addition to this logistical and planning support, NATO is also a member of the International Contact Group on Somalia. It was first invited to attend these meetings in June 2009 and has participated in subsequent meetings.
Contributing to the establishment of an African Standby Force
NATO has been providing expert and training support to the African Standby Force (ASF) at the AU’s request. Not only does it offer capacity-building support through courses and training events, but it also organizes different forms of support for the operationalization of the ASF all at AU’s request.
The ASF, which is intended to be deployed in Africa in times of crisis, is part of the AU’s efforts to develop long-term peacekeeping capabilities. ASF represents the AU’s vision for a continental, on-call, security apparatus with some similarities to the NATO Response Force. NATO is, inter alia, assisting the AU with the evaluation and assessment processes linked to the operational readiness of the ASF brigages. This continental force is expected to reach full operational capability by 2015 and could be seen as an African contribution to wider international efforts to preserve peace and security.
Assisting the AU in Darfur, Sudan
The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) aimed to end violence and improve the humanitarian situation in a region that has been suffering from conflict since 2003.
From June 2005 to 31 December 2007, NATO helped the AU expand its peacekeeping mission in Darfur by providing airlift for the transport of additional peacekeepers into the region and by training AU personnel. NATO support did not imply the provision of combat troops.
Alliance support ended on 31 December 2007 when AMIS was transferred to the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The Alliance has expressed its readiness to consider providing support to the new UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping force made up of peacekeepers and civilian police officers, if requested.