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Capt. Joshua Van Buskirk, intelligence officer, New Hampshire Army National Guard (middle), performs mission analysis with a host of partner nation officers during the first week of Southern Accord 14, July 18. SA 14 promotes regional relationships, increases capacity, trains US and Southern African forces, and furthers cross training and interoperability. (Photo by Sgt. Luther R. Washington, 4IBCT/PAO)

     
 

U.S., Southern Africa Strategic Partnership Takes Center Stage during Exercise SA 14

By Maj. Jason S. Brown, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs

SALIMA, Malawi – For two weeks in July, more than 220 officers and NCO’s from 10 countries converged on the Malawi Armed Forces College to share knowledge and exchange ideas at Exercise Southern Accord 14. Led by U.S. Army Africa, the U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise included several days of instruction from the U.N. Integrated Training Service and U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and simulated the deployment of a peacekeeping force in a realistic, challenging scenario.

“Attention in the JOC!” With those words, Maj. Herman Khairabeb of the Namibian Defence Force silenced the exercise Joint Operations Center. The staff had to develop a comprehensive plan to stop armed groups in a fictional country from looting villages and recruiting child soldiers. Additionally, the staff developed a plan to engage government and host-nation forces, humanitarian aid organizations and displaced civilians. After a flurry of input from every staff sections and a hasty iteration of the U.N. Military Component Planning Process they involved maneuver forces, Civilian Military Cooperation actions with UN refugee and children’s aid organizations. Through the use of this and other complex, real-world scenarios, the participants learned to work together and improved military interoperability.

Although hundreds of individuals were involved in the process, a large portion fell to Eugene Martin, USARAF lead planner for Exercise Southern Accord 14. Having planned two previous Accord-series exercises, Martin is familiar with the challenges associated with working across international boundaries. “Each country has different procedures for conducting military operations, and they’ve all had success doing things their own way,” he explained. “Though we all understand the necessity of regional cooperation, bridging those differences is often easier said than done.”

The differences were immediately recognizable by Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. Initially, different attitudes in the rolls of junior and mid-level leaders led to frustration, but everyone made adjustments to make it work. “It was tremendously rewarding,” he continued, “when their leaders and our leaders were able to coordinate and make decisions together to ensure mission accomplishment.”




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