Defense representatives from more than 30 African nations joined together in Maseru, Lesotho, November 7-11, 2011, to participate in the initial planning conference for next year’s Africa Endeavor.
Africa Endeavor is an annual U.S. Africa Command-sponsored communications exercise focused on building interoperability and information sharing among African nations.
« Conferences like this not only provide the framework to conduct technical planning, but they are also the perfect opportunity for (participants) to form relationships with their fellow communications professionals from throughout Africa, » said Lieutenant Colonel Todd Hannah, Africa Endeavor exercise director.
Although the location of the 2012 exercise is pending final confirmation, the initial planning conference is being hosted by the Kingdom of Lesotho. Speaking at the opening ceremonies on November 7, the acting minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Honorable Maphoka Motoboli, noted the importance of the exercise in preparing for future operational missions.
« The Africa Endeavor seeks to assist the African Union members to translate its operational requirements into capacity building opportunities for the African Standby Force, to also enhance an environment that facilitates information sharing beyond borders thereby overcoming cultural barriers. Ultimately the program encourages … letting the African states develop professionalized armies and contribute trainers and facilitate the exercise themselves in the future. »
Toward that end, many of the participants from the African nations have attended the exercise in previous years, which has encouraged commitment to long-term goals and objectives and led to a sustained growth in capabilities. In addition to the broad national support from African states, several regional and international organizations are expected to participate in this year’s effort.
« To assist in multinational peace support operations under the auspices of the United Nations globally or regionally…efforts such as this are bound to attract support from all corners of the world, » Minister Motoboli said, noting that the most notable objective of Africa Endeavor has been in facilitating intercommunication between multinational forces to improve efficiency of their efforts.
Facing a spectrum of communication issues ranging from technical to interpersonal, planners’ focus this week will include exercise network design and security, regionally focused working groups, potential integration of police and civil authorities, and finally, initial scenario development.
U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho Michele Bond reflected on the milestones reached since the inception of Africa Endeavor in 2006 and the impact this effort will have in the future.
« Since 2006, Africa Endeavor has trained more than 1200 communications specialists from more than 35 countries. Africa Endeavor 2012 will be the largest exercise to date, consisting of a scenario-driven communications exercise across four locations, » she said, adding « …the exercises develop important personal relationships among key players across the African continent. These relationships enhance the ability of African nations to support multinational operations, respond to crises and prevent conflict. »
By Major Paula Kurtz