A delegation of African senior communications officers participated in a 10-day partner nation familiarization event in the Washington, D.C. area, September 2011.
Throughout the week, the group visited the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, along with the Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) in Annapolis and the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) in Indian Head.
The delegation, which included senior military officers from Burundi, Botswana, Togo, Benin, and Ghana, as well as a representative from the African Union, was sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
« [DISA] continues to strengthen our partnerships with African partner nations by exposing their senior level communicators with our U.S. military communicators in the areas of operations, training, and support, » said Franklin James, who plans and coordinates foreign military visits to the agency through the Service, Agency, and International Engagement Office, part of the Strategic Planning and Information Directorate (SPI).
During the visit to the headquarters, DISA’s military and civilian leaders provided briefings and led discussions with the delegation.
- Larry Huffman, principal director of operations, provided opening remarks.
- Scott Rodakowski, chief of Corporate Strategy and Communications (SPI), gave an overview of DISA which focused on enterprise operations, support to the DoD, and the strategic and operational focus of the agency.
- Army Colonel David Barlow, commander of DISA’s AFRICOM Field Office, spoke about DISA’s ongoing engagements in Africa.
- Army Colonel Gregory Jaksec, commander of the DISA Command Center, spoke on the DCC operations and gave a tour of the facility.
- Navy Rear Admiral David Simpson, DISA’s vice director, made closing remarks.
During the delegation’s visit to DSO, they received a DSO overview brief from John Hickey, DSO vice director, and a brief on the World Radio Communication Program from Steven Molina, director of DSO’s Strategic Planning Office. The DSO visit concluded with a briefing from Army Major Thomas Meccia, the Joint Spectrum Center (JSC) operations officer, regarding the JSC’s operations and capabilities. The African visitors then participated in a discussion on the latest automation tools technology.
On the final leg of the African military delegation’s visit to DISA, the group toured JITC’s test labs in Indian Head, Maryland and learned about ongoing projects there.
Anthony Stout, JITC’s chief of Washington operations, provided details on some of JITC’s most significant projects, and there was also considerable dialogue about JITC’s direct support to AFRICOM.
« Our African partners were able to learn how DISA is organized, and how we use our joint enablers — such as the Joint Spectrum Center and Joint Interoperability Test Command — to meet our communications and information technology requirements; and our DISA personnel were able to interact with [the delegation] and learn about their challenges and opportunities in their countries, » said Barlow, who accompanied the delegation during the visits to each DISA site.
Other sites the delegation will visit before returning to their home countries include the Pentagon, the U.S. Army Signal Center in Fort Gordon, Ga., and the Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, N.C.