News: Forging partnerships a continent away
By Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
DC National Guard
DOULA, Cameroon - The largest military communications exercise on the African continent kicked off June 18 during a ceremony at the Douala Naval Base.
Africa Endeavor, an annual communications joint exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, focuses on the interoperability of equipment and information sharing among military representatives throughout the African Union.
Thirty-six African nations along with representatives from North America, Europe and International Organizations participated in the scenario-driven exercise.
“The fact that this exercise is occurring in our country will be forever engraved in the history of our nation,” said Mebe Ngo’O Edgard Alain, Cameroon’s Minister of Defense, in his opening remarks.
The overall objective of the two-week exercise is to establish a framework for communications interoperability and compatibility that will allow partner nations to successfully conduct future multinational peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
“The work done by the Africa Endeavor team will help deploying forces better communicate and coordinate their efforts to accomplish the mission, achieve success and save lives,” said U.S. Marine Col. Andrew Kostic, the deputy director of Joint Training and Exercises for AFRICOM. “We must use creative and innovative thinking to maximize limited resources and take the exercise to the next level.”
In addition to establishing operational readiness for the African Standby Force, AE 2012 facilitates information exchange across borders to meet peace and stability objectives that will allow for the prosperity on the African continent.
“U.S. Africa Command’s ambition is to not only strengthen partnerships between the United States military and the militaries of African nations, but to strengthen the partnership between African nations’ militaries as well,” Kostic said.
AE12 participants will spend the initial days of the exercise learning about radio and network configuration. During the last several days of AE12, participants will apply the knowledge during a scenario in which a natural disaster strikes a fictitious African nation.
This year’s exercise is the first time military and civilian public affairs personnel from participating nations will share information and procedures of how to successfully tell the story of cooperation among nations to their national and international audience.
The planning for AE12 began in November 2011. During the main planning conference in March 2012, technicians and delegation chiefs built the exercise plan. Detailed planning was finalized in May to ensure the exercise’s objectives would be achieved.
“After observing the progress of the Africa Endeavor team’s planning efforts, I can say with confidence that we are ready to conduct the exercise,” Kostic said.