DR Congo

FACTBOX - International efforts at military reform in Congo

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Dec 23 (Reuters) - Congo's President Joseph Kabila wants the United Nations' largest peacekeeping force to have an exit strategy by mid-2010 but foreign donors must invest hundreds of millions of dollars and better coordinate Congolese military reform plans before the world body can start pulling back.

Following are details of international efforts to reform Democratic Republic of Congo's armed forces since the official end to the 1998-2003 war.

BELGIUM

- Former colonial power Belgium has been one of Congo's biggest military backers, and helped Kinshasa set up the first newly-integrated brigade after the war ended in 2003.

- Belgium has signed several bilateral military agreements with Congo since 2004 and is currently training an elite battalion in Kindu, in the eastern Maniema province.

SOUTH AFRICA

- South Africa kick-started the process of registering the hundreds of thousands of fighters who joined Congo's army from the vast collection of rebel, militia and government forces.

- South African instructors trained one army battalion in Mura, Katanga province in 2008, and they are waiting for two more to be assembled for more training.

- The Netherlands, which spends 10 million euros a year on army reform in Congo, has been funding the South African training programme.

CHINA

- China has long been a key trainer for Congolese army officers, including President Joseph Kabila, who passed through one of its academies before becoming president in 2001.

- Over the last five years, Chinese officers have been training their Congolese counterparts in Kamina, in Congo's eastern Katanga province.

- China is also an important provider of military equipment.

ANGOLA

- Angola was Kinshasa's main ally during the 1998-2003 war, ensuring Rwandan-backed forces did not take the capital.

- In peacetime, Angolan forces have run a training camp for Congolese soldiers in the southwest of the country and analysts say some of Luanda's soldiers have been actively involved in combat operations, though this has never been confirmed.

EUSEC

- EUSEC is a European Union mission that was set up in June 2005 to advise and assist Congo's armed forces on a range of issues including registration, payroll, administration and training.

UNITED STATES

- The U.S. military renovated a training college in Kinshasa and has been training officers in Congo since 2006.

- The U.S. African Command (Africom) also started building a $35 million training camp in the eastern town of Kisangani, which is due to open in early 2010.

- The camp will host several hundred soldiers who will receive training from US instructors. Neighbouring land will be used for agricultural training projects for the military and their dependents.

FRANCE

- France has been involved in military training programmes in Congo since 2004. Between 2005 and 2007, French funds were used to renovate a military academy in Congo.

- Since May 2008, French instructors have been training the battalion contributed by Congo to the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC), currently deployed in the Central African Republic.

TANZANIA

- Following approval by the U.N. Security Council in November 2008, Tanzania has pledged 200 Tanzanian military instructors to Congo.

- The mission has been delayed by the lack of equipment.

(Writing by Thomas Hubert and David Lewis; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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