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Malawi - Military Doctrine

The Malawi Defense Force has the mission to defend the country and to maintain order.

Under President for Life Banda, the Armed Forces were the direct responsibility of the President, who personally handled all defense matters. In the event of external aggression, the Malawi Army Commander has been designated by the Life President as responsible for a11 command decisions, while the other services were to perform such functions as the Army Commander directs.

Internal problems were the primary responsibility of the Inspector General of Police. The President had three advisory boards to assist him with the formulation of defense policy; they include the Operational Committee, the Army Council, and the National lntelJigence Committee (NIC), the latter being the most important. The NIC comprises the Anny Commander, Inspector General of Police, Chief of the Police Special Branch, Secretary of the President and Cabinet, and Secretary of the Malawi Congress Party.

The government exercised effective control over the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) and Malawi Police Service (MPS). The MPS, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order. The MDF has responsibility for external security. The MDF was sometimes asked to carry out policing activity. The MDF commander reports directly to the president as commander in chief.

Police were inefficient, poorly trained, and corrupt. Impunity was a problem. Officers suspected of misconduct generally were transferred rather than investigated, and disciplined if found guilty. Authorities, however, prosecuted officers accused of involvement in serious crimes such as robbery, murder, or rape.

Like other elements of government, the MDF and MPS were subject to investigation for corruption. In July 2015 the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested former army chief General Henry Odillo and his former deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Clement Kafuwa, on corruption charges in connection with contracts for military equipment that was never delivered. The two were arraigned at the High Court and released on bail. The trial began in October but had yet to conclude by the end of 2016.

The MDF and MPS cooperated with corruption investigations by the ACB but did not carry out their own internal investigations. Government mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption were only marginally effective due in large part to funding and human resource constraints.

The inspector general of police remained committed to the professionalization of the MPS. The Professional Responsibility Unit (previously known as the Internal Affairs Department) of the MPS investigates police misconduct, including whether killings or other misconduct that occurred in the line of duty were justifiable. Police continue to train officers on internal investigations, victims’ rights, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and trafficking in persons. Police continued to receive foreign assistance for training and equipment.

At the Africa Land Forces Summit (ALFS 2017) in May 2017, Commander of the Malawi Defense Force, Griffin Spoon Phiri, said security issues were directly linked to development and that insecurity undermined prospects of long-term economic growth. He thus urged that militaries should be looked at as partners in sustainable development without compromising their combat readiness. “For this to be achieved there is need to enhance our Civil-Military Relations and cooperation which require that the military be subordinate to the democratically elected governments and provide space for development while also protecting the democratic values,” explained the MDF Commander.

Exercise EPIC GUARDIAN took place in April and May 2013 across three separate countries—Djibouti, Malawi and Seychelles. Approximately 1,000 participants took part in a three-week long capacity building event to empower partner nation governments to improve their capability to deal with crises that could arise, from violent extremist threats to major natural disasters. A watermark of the exercise was that it represented the first time the Malawian government employed a Crisis Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) in the planning process for a major crisis.

“The CIATF is an interagency task force used to take the national command authorities directives and requirements and give them to tactical level forces, units and agencies,” said Lt. Col. Herb Skinner, Joint Expeditionary Control Group-Forward. “The CIATF is an operational level organization, and they resource the tactical level units and synchronize efforts within the government.”

This is what is commonly referred to as the “whole-of-government” approach to finding solutions to seemingly extraordinarily complex problems. Skinner also said that the ‘whole-of-government’ approach to solving crises means using all departments, ministries and agencies of government to solve problems together; with each performing its function and synchronizing efforts to minimize wasted effort.

Multiple Malawian government agencies were involved throughout the exercise, to include the Ministry of Defense, Paratroop Battalion, National Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Interior and Public Safety, and Malawi police services and airport security service, working side by side with their military counterparts.

“It gives me great pleasure to …mark the successful conclusion of Epic Guardian 2013, a joint training exercise promoting a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to good governance, security, and crisis response,” said Nicole Thompson, U.S. State Department Public Affairs Officer. “I would like to extend a special word of gratitude to the Government of Malawi for hosting this joint exercise and to General Henry Odillo, Commanding General of the Malawi Defense Force, for hosting our U.S. Military and civilian personnel. The gracious hospitality and professionalism of all members of the Malawian government ensured a successful exercise.”

The Epic Guardian exercise was engineered to work with the Malawi Defense Force—as well as other Malawian government agencies—to help them establish an efficient way to operate a CIATF, providing them with a greater capacity to coordinate local and regional responses to a broad range of security and humanitarian crises.

Though Epic Guardian is not the first example of military cooperation between Malawi and the United Sates, Thompson did elaborate on the scope and significance of the event. “[Epic Guardian 2013] is the largest and most complex exercise that we have ever undertaken. Years of planning, coordination and cooperation between the Malawi and U.S. Governments were required to carry out an endeavor of this scale,” said Thompson. “Now, at its conclusion, I can say without equivocation that the friendship between the United States and Malawi is stronger, our government civilian and military forces more capable, and our ability to respond to crises and protect our citizens is more integrated than ever before.”

Prior to Epic Guardian, there was no framework within the Malawi government to synchronize and integrate civil and military assets for a coordinated response; which is why developing a Malawi internal crisis response structure was a priority for the exercise, which included CIATF and a MDF/MOI Counter Terror Task Force.





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