Final planning for the US military Africa Command’s (Africom) largest communication exercise has been completed, ahead of the exercise which takes place in Zambia in August.
Exercise Africa Endeavour will see military communication professionals from across Africa work together towards common standards and procedures in command, control, communications and information sharing.
“Africa Endeavour gives participating nations the opportunity to work side-by-side and build relationships with regional neighbours, other African countries, the United States and international partners,” exercise commander US Navy Commander Bryan Roberts said at the final planning event in Lilongwe, Malawi, earlier this month.
“These relationships are key to building better capacity because the first step is overcoming the barriers created by language, borders and culture.”
Thirty-five African nations and regional organisations were present at the Malawi planning event as well as representatives from the AU and NATO. Partner countries present were Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
In his introductory remarks Malawi Defence Force Commander, General Henry Odillo, said: “The strategy of working together through multi-national and combined training is commendable in finding common ground to tackle common threats. The notion of working in isolation is no longer applicable, both politically and militarily, because of the dynamic and symmetric nature of our threats”.
The planning effort saw participants split into small groups focussed on specific goals and objectives. These included scenario development, training objectives, development of training course materials, cyber and communication security, policies and standardised procedures for use during Africa Endeavour.
Time was also allotted for regional partners to meet and discuss exercise equipment requirements. This because each participating nation contributes to the exercise’s network architecture.
“There is a huge logistical puzzle we have to piece together when it comes to equipment needed and whether certain systems can talks to each other,” US Ambassador to Malawi and former US Army Signal Corps officer, Jeanine Jackson, told participants.
“Figuring that out now, during an exercise, is critical to enable regional forces to know how they can communicate during an actual response to a crisis call,” she said.
Benefits emanating from the exercise include testing of state-of-the-art equipment, improving information sharing among militaries and fostering professional relationships.
“The benefits are obvious around Africa as well as for multi-national African coalitions combatting crises and instability from Mali to Sudan and the DRC,” Jackson said.