IN THE NEWS
U.S., African and European military personnel stand in formation during the closing ceremony for Western Accord 2015, at Winkelman Kazerne, Harskamp, Netherlands, July 31. Western Accord 2015 replicates the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, Sector Headquarters mission command in support of United Nation and African Union mandated peacekeeping operations. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)
By Sgt. Marcus Fichtl for U.S. Army Africa
HARSKAMP, Netherlands – Cool, sunny skies filled with bright, fluffy clouds greeted more than 180 military personnel from 16 different countries stood in a final Western Accord 15 formation at Winkelman Kazerne, July 31.
The annual 12-day exercise provided participants with an in-depth academic week of study on United Nations operations, peacekeeping and military planning, followed by a week of computer simulated scenarios designed around the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission template in Mali.
All staff sections within the exercise put European, U.S. and African personnel together by design; however, in the final formation nations stood together by choice.
“Amitie internationale, friendship international – that’s Western Accord,” said. Spc. Andrew Jensen, French linguist, Utah National Guard.
Jensen saw first-hand and became part of the building of camaraderie within the exercise. Tactical communication turned into friendly conversation by day and games of soccer and dinners in the evening.
“We all have a connection,” said Jensen.
According to Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy, The Netherlands, Adam Sterling seven decades of connection binds the U.S. to the Dutch and their NATO allies as well as decades of partnership in Africa.
“If there’s one thing you all shared coming in and will share going forward, it’s a commitment and a sense of duty to bring peace and security in West Africa,” said Sterling. “Western Accord is one step in the process to achieve that goal together.”
“A road to peace,” Brig. Gen. Kenneth H. Moore, Jr., Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Africa, said, “is paved with trust, the antithesis to Africa’s greatest obstacle – fear.”
“Fear is the opposite of trust,” said Moore. “There is no cooperation without trust.”