Communicators from more than 35 countries kicked off the weeklong Africa Endeavor 2015 Leader Seminar in Gaborone, Botswana Aug. 24. The seminar, hosted by the Botswana Defence Force and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, is a forum for leaders to improve communications among and between partner nations and regional and international organizations.
Africa Endeavor is an annual communications and information-sharing effort. More than 1,800 communications specialists from 40 countries, six African regional organizations and six international partner nations have participated in past Africa Endeavor events.
“Previous editions of Africa Endeavor were large exercises which focused on tactical and operational communications interoperability, and Africa Endeavor 2014 became the first iteration to focus primarily on strategic communications and lessons learned,” said Botswana Defence Force Maj. Gen. Gotsileene Morake, director of special services for the BDF.
A common theme through the opening remarks was the need for enhanced interoperability while supporting United Nations and African Union peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster response missions.
“Challenges that are affecting Africa are broad in nature and vary from one region to another,” said BDF Brig. Kenneth Kethibogile, director of communications for the BDF. “There is no one country that has all the resources to handle these challenges by itself, hence the need to think and prepare to operate in a multinational and multiagency environment.”
While the focus of Africa Endeavor is inherently military, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana Earl R. Miller urged participants to also test how they communicate with civil authorities.
“We know domestically, in response to a natural disaster, the military is often the first responder on the scene—or second only to the local police. However, other government ministries likewise play a role in the response, bringing much needed expertise and support to their communities,” Miller said.
Participants will take part in three days of discussions before moving into a daylong tabletop exercise where the communications experts will put what they learn to the test.
Col. Patrick Dedham, director of communications for U.S. Africa Command, said that the lessons learned during previous Africa Endeavor events are already being applied during missions throughout Africa.
“Many of the nations contributing forces in support of multinational operations in locations such as Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia have a long history of partnership with Africa Endeavor,” said Dedham. “What you do here matters.”