The Vanguard reports that Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Andrew Azazi announced that 16 West African nations have established a West African Standby Brigade (WASB). This was something Yar’Adua spoke about in his somewhat confusing remarks about AFRICOM, after his visit to Bush in the White House.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Andrew Azazi, says that 16 West African countries have established a regional West African Standby Brigade (WASB) just as the Gulf of Guinea Commission has resolved to form a Gulf of Guinea Guards to safeguard the gulf region. Azazi said that the setting up of the brigade was designed to prevent political and other crises in the area from escalating into civil wars.
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The CDS said that Nigeria was expected to play prominent roles in the training, provision of base and personnel, as well as funding and other logistics in the formation of the two forces.

“West African nations have agreed to establish West African Standby Brigade in the sub-region. Efforts have gone far in the formation of the West African Standby Force that will be organised and run by Africans themselves.

“The force will have five formations all over West Africa and Nigeria is expected to play prominent roles. The Gulf of Guinea Commission also intends to form the Gulf of Guinea Guards to police the gulf.

“Nigeria will play vital parts in the organisation of the two forces.

The Gulf of Guinea Guard, an extension of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and DRC, all oil producing states, has been partnering with USEUCOM, and now AFRICOM.

[USEUCOM originally, and now AFRICOM has been working on] developing a coastal security system in the Gulf of Guinea called the Gulf of Guinea Guard.
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The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the broad trans-Africa oil strip and the vital oil reserves now being discovered there.

That is why the USS Fort McHenry, the African Partnership Station, APS, is in the neighborhood, training and partnering all along the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

General Azazi had earlier expressed some skepticism about AFRICOM, and said the US needed to explain the purpose and activities of AFRICOM a bit more clearly. This Day quoted him in November 2007:

. . . we feel is that nobody at the political level in African Union or ECOWAS knows enough about AFRICOM to make categorical statements . . . we (the ECOWAS CDS) are going to discuss AFRICOM if our advise is that it is not good for the continent it will be rejected and if it is good, it will be accepted. Otherwise, the general understanding is that AFRICOM is suppose to be good for capacity building, but what we are saying is that we should have a better understanding of all that is going to come about, let’s create awareness, let’s be a partnership that will help both sides.

It will be interesting and revealing to see how the West African Standby Brigade, and the Gulf of Guinea Guard work, how they interact, and whose interests they serve.