Planning event sets stage for Africa Endeavour 09

Delegates from 25 African states participated in a mid-planning conference in Douala, Cameroon this week for US Africa Command’s (Africom) exercise Africa Endeavour. This is the second round in a series of plenary conferences.
Africa Endeavour is an Africom-sponsored initiative intended to encourage information sharing and interoperability of radio and information systems among African nations.
This is accomplished through communications networks and subsequent collaborative links with the United States, the African Union, and African nations with common stability, security and sustainment goals and objectives.

The exercise is designed to focus information sharing objectives in support of military and civil actions while responding to national crises and to support peacekeeping operations. The purpose of this conference is to build a strong cadre of African communications and provide the foundation for a successful Africa Endeavour exercise, scheduled for July in Gabon.

US Ambassador to Cameroon, Janet Garvey, was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the event and highlighted the importance of conducting such an exercise.

“A country is more secure–its armed forces are more effective, and therefore the country is stronger–when its armed forces have more information,” said Garvey in her opening remarks to more than 150 participants.
“For this reason, it is a security imperative to share information across borders, to find ways to communicate effectively even across language barriers, to find ways to cooperate even when equipment standards are different.”

Brigadier General Saly Mohamadou, commander of the Second Joint Military Region, Republic of Cameroon, thanked the participants during a speech in the opening ceremony.

“Your massive presence here is a clear pointer to the commitment taken by our respective countries to successfully carry through the process that will, eventually, enable the network integration of our various armies.”

Shortly after the opening ceremony, each of the delegation chiefs and members of the technical working groups began work to shape and mould the design of the upcoming exercise in Libreville, Gabon.
“The role of the Delegation Chiefs is to make recommendations to the general officer level Executive Management Board at the Exercise of how to further refine the goals of this exercise,” said Marine Corps Captain David N. Fuller, exercise technical director, Marine Corps Forces Africa.

According to Fuller, this group of countries faces challenges including language barriers and limited compatibilities of the communications equipment, and can benefit greatly from this event.
“The participating nations try and bring the same people back every time so there is a lot of communication and networking going on between countries,” said Fuller. In a sense, the conference facilitates a dialogue between nations that don’t necessarily communicate with each other very often.

In addition, the conference serves as a platform for the participating nations to iron out how they will operate in the exercise and what equipment they will bring–so they may develop a baseline of operations and begin to work on the interoperability piece, said Fuller.

During the upcoming exercise in July, each participating nation will be evaluated by the Joint Interoperability Test Center (JITC). Subsequently, the JITC will provide the results and document solutions for each participant nation to achieve greater interoperability with other nations.