US, Gabonese planners partner to plan Central Accord 2016

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Planners from the U.S., Gabon and 14 other African and European nations met here Dec. 7-11 to conduct the main planning event for Central Accord 2016, which is scheduled to take place in June.

The event will be the second Central Accord exercise hosted by the Gabonese Armed Forces in Libreville.

Central Accord is an annual exercise that brings together partner nations to demonstrate mission command proficiency for a United Nations peacekeeping operation, improve multi-echelon operations and develop multinational logistical and communications capabilities.

Brig. Gen. Jon Jensen, U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general, said the event is one of four regionally-focused exercises USARAF co-hosts with their African partner nations.

Jensen also said the exercises build regional stability with their African partners by increasing interoperability, building capacity of participating forces and strengthening partnerships between exercise participants.

The event will consist of both a command post exercise and simultaneous field training exercise, according to Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Gaspard Olame Ndong, deputy chief of the general staff of the Gabonese Armed Forces.

Ndong is the Central Accord co-director and the lead delegate for Gabon during the main planning event.
“That’s a big challenge for us to host both the command post and field exercise, but we try to do everything possible to make it easy,” said Ndong.

The main planning event brought together planners from the participating militaries to coordinate the various support requirements needed for the exercise.

Planning topics included the preparation for training in peacekeeping operations, medical and casualty evacuation training, command of a multinational force and staff, and allowed several nations to work side-by-side throughout the week.
“This is the second of three planning events, which allows us to come together and get to know each other. It really assists the partnership building amongst the leadership of all the participating militaries,” said Jensen.

This event also allowed planners to visit the training sites that will be used in June, which included a trip to Point Denis, located a boat ride away from Libreville.

For U.S. Army planners from the regionally aligned force that will be supporting the exercise, it was an opportunity to meet their Gabonese partners for the first time and see where they will be working during the exercise.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Gabonese Soldiers, to learn from them and have the opportunity to see this great country,” said Lt. Col. James Lander, deputy commanding officer of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

In 2015, approximately 400 personnel participated in Central Accord from 13 African and European militaries and the U.S. With the addition of the field training exercise to Central Accord 2016, planners this week anticipated at least 900 service members would attend.
“Gabon and the Gabonese military have been a great partner with U.S. Army Africa as part of our exercise program,” said Jensen.
“U.S. Army Africa is grateful to Gabon for hosting Central Accord last year and again this year,” said Jensen.