US Firm Turning Sudan Rebels into 'Army'

"It's always a challenge when a rebel militia force has too much idle time. We need to put them to work quickly," he said on the sidelines of the first trade fair in southern Sudan's capital Juba.

US Firm Turning Sudan Rebels into 'Army'

US private security firm and defense contractor DynCorp International Inc. will begin next year to reshape thousands of former Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM/A) rebel fighters into a professional army, a firm official said Saturday, August 12.

"The military training could start anywhere from early next year and it will be ongoing for the next several years," DynCorp vice president for international business development, Al Rigney, told Reuters in an interview.

"It's always a challenge when a rebel militia force has too much idle time. We need to put them to work quickly," he said on the sidelines of the first trade fair in southern Sudan's capital Juba.

DynCorp, one of the fair's sponsors, has almost $40 million in US State Department contracts to build barracks, provide telecommunications and training to the former rebel rebels.

DynCorp will cover a spectrum of issues under its training programme, teaching soldiers rules of engagement, to respect the chain of command and how to drill in formation.

"They ought to be taught that use of weapons should be structured through proper chain of command, and not used to settle disputes," Rigney said.

"We need to get them walking and talking like professionals," Rigney said.

"Stable Country"

Rigney hinted that his firm was contracted by the US government to get the job done.

"The US government has decided that a stable military force will create a stable country," Rigney said.

DynCorp, which has also trained police in Iraq and soldiers in Liberia, expects to complete work on barracks in the traditional SPLA stronghold Rumbek by the end of the year.

Once a shell of bomb-damaged brick buildings, the barracks have been refurbished with everything from new roofs and fencing, to running water and electricity.

DynCorp has similar plans for army headquarters in up to 10 locations, one in each of the south's states, each housing between 3,000-5,000 soldiers. Work will begin next year in Malakal and Bentiu, according to Rigney.

Last year's peace deal between southern Sudan and the Khartoum government ended one Africa's longest civil wars, bringing many fighters out of the bush.

Two million people were killed during the two-decade conflict, and many southerners say peace is threatened by disputes over oil money and oil-producing areas on the north-south border.

The deal specified there would be two armies, the north's Sudanese Armed Forces and the south's SPLA.

The SPM/A is the only rebel faction from three others to have signed the May peace deal.

UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said Thursday that the number of violent attacks in Sudan's strife-torn western region of Darfur had more than doubled so far this year, reaching catastrophic levels.

"If there hadn't been a war in Lebanon we would all be up in arms about the deterioration in Darfur," Egeland told a news conference. "It's going from really bad to catastrophic in Darfur."

The UN's human rights office warned in a report Wednesday that the Darfur Peace Agreement is "doomed to failure" because the human rights situation in the region has deteriorated since the accord was signed in May.

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