African military communicators finalise plans for Africa Endeavor 09

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Representatives from more than 25 nations and organisations have gathered in Gabon to finalise details and execution strategy for AFRICA ENDEAVOR-09, scheduled for July at Camp Baraka, Gabon.

The government of Gabon and its Ministry of Defence last week hosted the five-day Final Planning Conference for military communicators and planners in the country’s capitol, Libreville.

AFRICA ENDEAVOR is the premier C3IS (command, control, communications and information systems) and information-sharing exercise on the African continent, Africom avers.

Sponsored this year by the US Africa Command, AE-09 demonstrates the dynamics for Africa to speak with one voice through military communications interoperability, further operational relevance through Command and Control (C2), and to develop communications solutions to common problems on the continent.

During opening remarks, US Ambassador to Gabon Eunice Reddick highlighted the importance of partnership and supporting multinational peacekeeping operations carried out by the United Nations, the African Union, and other organizations.

“We strongly support the efforts by the African Union to create regional standby peacekeeping brigades,” she said. “Our hope is that AFRICA ENDEAVOR will contribute to the larger objectives of the African Standby Force and will further strengthen relationships among countries within the region and across the continent in order to improve everyone’s security.”

From its inception in 2006, AFRICA ENDEAVOR continues to evolve to meet growing military communications requirements on the continent. This year, planners are taking steps to develop an Information Assurance (IA) Working Group that will become operational during AE-10.

Because AFRICA ENDEAVOR operates in an interconnected network environment, an Information Assurance Program is necessary. The working group will take steps to develop security concepts and policies that will be incorporated in a Standardised AE policy format. In addition, IA announced three policies that will be initiated during AE-09: connection agreement, an acceptable use policy as well as an anti-virus policy.

In addition, the countries’ delegation chiefs agreed that an extensive technical training program would greatly enhance the AE program. In addition to building a cadre of professional trained communicators, training would benefit members of the Single Channel and LAN/WAN Technical Groups by resolving potential challenges faced during the testing phase of the exercise.

Furthermore, the technical training program will help bridge any technological knowledge gap that might exist between military communications systems and civilian communications systems. Communicators will leave the exercise with professional knowledge that they can pass on to other service members within their respective organizations

US Navy Commander Britt Talbert, AE-09 exercise director, and US Marine Corps Captain Dave Fuller, AE-09 technical director, oversaw the planning operation ensuring goals and objectives were met.

Key discussions included short and long-range goals including the creation of an Africa Endeavor center on the ground in each country, a possible website and the development of regional centers.

Delegation chiefs suggested forming a small working group representing each region to conceive several operational scenarios and present them at the future Concept Development Conference.

In addition, the East, West, Central and Southern regions presented a series of ideas and concepts that will be studied for possible implementation, ranging from developing Standard Operating Procedures, establishing strategic high frequency network communications in each region, and involving political and senior military leadership from participating countries.

Many delegation chiefs agreed on the importance of designing testing scenarios that focus on crisis management response, geopolitical conflicts, collaboration with non-government organizations, maritime security and transnational crime.

During the Final Closing Ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Nyonge, Kenya, co-chairman of the Single Channel Working Group, and Captain Folly, Benin, co-chairman of the LAN/WAN Working Group, detailed extensive testing plans for the exercise.

Countries and organizations in attendance at the FPC included: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Djibouti, ECOWAS, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Joint Interoperability Test Command, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, United States and Zambia.

Sweden has been an active participant in AFRICA ENDEAVOR by supporting peacekeeping operations and providing technical and information assurance support. Switzerland has been instrumental in providing high frequency testing support.

One of the key deliverables will be the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) Executive Report and Interoperability Guide which documents all testing results conducted during AE-09. This guide is instrumental for military communicators when involved in military, crisis operations or humanitarian relief operations.

The Final Planning Conference concluded May 8 with military communicators looking toward execution at Camp Baraka beginning July 21, 2009.



Pic: Ugandan PDF officers at African Endeavour 2006, held in Pretoria, SA.