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U.S. Donates Communications System to AU Mission in Somalia
As part of ongoing support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United States has donated a satellite communications system to provide a link between the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the deployed AU
As part of ongoing support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United States has donated a satellite communications system to provide a link between the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the deployed AU forces in Mogadishu, Somalia.



The United States has also provided training for nine AU military technicians who are operating the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system, according to news release by the U.S. Mission to the African Union.



Ambassador Cindy Courville, the U.S. representative to the African Union, presented the satellite dish system to AMISOM on December 14 in Addis Abab, Ethiopia, where the African Union headquarters is based.



The VSAT system is expected to improve communication and coordination between AMISOM forces in Somalia and its headquarters in Addis Ababa. The VSAT equipment was received by Ambassador Said Djinnit, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security on behalf of the African Union. In accepting the donation, Djinnit thanked the government and people of the United States for their continued support to the AUUâ?s peace efforts.



VSAT creates a direct, reliable and secure connection between personnel in the field and the AUUâ?s 24-hour situation room. It will link field officers to AU staff both by email and voice over Internet protocol, expanding and increasing the speed of real-time communication, coordination and reporting. Fast and reliable communications between field and headquarters has been a major challenge in supporting the AU mission in Somalia. The system will be installed in the field in early 2008.



Prior to handing-over the equipment, the U.S. Mission to the African Union organized and conducted a hands-on training program for nine AU military technicians who will be responsible for the day to day management and upkeep of the system.



In addition to the satellite system, the United States has helped to prepare some AU forces for deployment to Somalia. For example, a small team from the U.S. Air Force in December and January assisted Burundian troops in practicing procedures for loading personnel and cargo aboard C-130 transport aircraft.



The United States contributed $78.7 million in support of AMISOM in 2007, according to a U.S. State Department fact sheet. That included: $19.6 million to support the initial deployment of Ugandan troops; $40 million for equipment, training and logistics support to AMISOM; $7 million for additional peacekeeper training and equipment under the Africa Contingency Operations and Assistance (ACOTA) program; and $12.1 million to support the deployment of Burundian troops.

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