First Annual Conference, Pretoria, November 2007
The origin of the African Conference of Commandants (ACoC) may be traced to a number of events and factors. With the regard to the former, the first and possibly the most important is the long tradition amongst military colleges on the continent to visit one another through student visits and exchanges of instructors and directing staff. This has increased over time and has been consolidated by the attachment of instructors and directing staff, albeit within sub-regions for the moment.
Lessons from visits to the North American Treaty Organisation’s Conference of Commandants (NATO CoC), the NATO Defence College and the United States Department of Defence’s African Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS) have all played a role in the philosophy and conduct of the ACoC. These, as well as the accumulated lessons from the first ACoC, held in South Africa under the auspices of the South African National War College from 6-8 November 2007 under the theme “Developing and Transforming Education in the Military, a Contribution to African Security”, continue to build the character of ACoC.
The aim of the ACoC is been to enhance harmonization, interoperability, commonality, standisation and cooperation between African Staff Colleges as its contribution to the African Standby Force (ASF) and Peace and Support Operations (PSOs).
- To contribute to African security through the development and transformation of education and training in the military environment.
- To facilitate and improve understanding and general coordination amongst African Staff Colleges in order to develop the African Standby Force (ASF) concept.
- To evaluate the feasibility of transformation in the current operating environment.
- To explore the commonality of the curricula with the intention to facilitate the Combined Joint African Exercise (CJAX).
- To develop co-operation amongst African Staff Colleges by enhancing benchmarking; college curriculum best practice; DS Exchange programmes; academic accreditation; exploration of the feasibility of an annual Combined Joint African Exercise (CJAX).
The membership of ACoC, like its philosophy, is a matter that is still evolving. Arising from this thinking and the first ACoC in 2007, it is evident that it is targeting the senior military levels of education within the AU/ASF militaries such as Commandants and Chief Instructors/COS of staff colleges as well as African Standy Force (ASF) representatives from the African Union (AU) and regional levels such as those of the AU’s ASF Harmonisation Workshop and AU Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD). Others include peace, security and defence related non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and educational institutions. National and international donors have been identified as valuable components of ACoC.
The ACoC’s broadness of mandate is further seen in its embarking on reinforcing the African Peace Support Training Centre (APSTA); the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres (IAPTC) as well as pan-defence education as well as on the delivery of peace missions and Military Operations Other than War (MOOTW) education.