GAKO, Rwanda -- Participants from 15 countries celebrated the conclusion of Shared Accord 2018, a multilateral joint exercise focused on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, held at the Rwanda Military Academy in Gako, Rwanda, Aug. 28.
“For the past two weeks, you have demonstrated the meaning of interoperability,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora, the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general. “We arrived from 15 countries, three continents with one goal in mind: to learn, and we have. We’ve learned to take in an order, analyze it, develop a plan and execute. More importantly, we have learned how to successfully operate as a combined joint force under one umbrella.”
Shared Accord 2018 focused on bringing together U.S. Army Africa personnel, African partner militaries, police, allies and international organizations to promote interoperability between participating nations for peacekeeping operations in the Central Africa Republic.
“According to a (United Nations Development Program) study, 71 percent of those radicalized in sub-Saharan Africa became that way after they, or someone close to them, had a negative experience with security personnel,” said Peter Vrooman, the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda.
“This means that respecting human rights not only builds trust between the state and its citizens, but it also prevents radicalization,” he said. “Ensuring that security personnel respect the human rights of those they are protecting is an important element in any approach to countering violent extremism.”
The 17-day exercise consisted of a command post exercise and medical readiness training exercise.
The command post exercise was constructed into three phases consisting of academic classes, discussion-based practical exercises, and a command post exercise focusing on a MINUSCA peacekeeping scenario. The first phase, academics, was designed to provide a baseline of knowledge on the MINUSCA mission and the conditions within the operational environment. Phase two covered the East African standby force six-step EASF process that focuses on the integrated staff process during the operation’s planning phase. The planning phase produced an operation order for an inject-driven plan, which was executed during phase three.
The exercise held its first ever “Women in Peacekeeping” panel discussion Aug. 22. The panel introduced women from multiple nations who have been involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa. The discussion highlighted the importance of female peacekeepers in U.N. operations.
“The work of a peacekeeper is noble; they are the guardians of peace and a beacon of light for those alone in the darkness,” Flora said. “I know. I was one of those in the darkness.”
The Medical Readiness Training Exercise 18-5, located in Kigali, Rwanda, is the first combined effort for a MEDRETE between the Rwandan government and U.S. Army Africa. The exercise is part of a series of medical readiness trainings that U.S. Army Africa is scheduled to facilitate within various countries in Africa and serves as an opportunity for the partnered militaries to hone and strengthen their general surgery and trauma skills while reinforcing the partnership between the countries.
SA18 brought together senior leaders from African nations and the U.S. during the senior leader’s seminar. This enabled senior leaders to focus on future strategies to combat regional challenges.
Before the CPX participants departed, an after-action review was conducted to discuss positive outcomes and list necessary improvements for future exercises. Participants were encouraged to bring the skills and lessons learned from the exercise back to their home countries.
“This exercise will enrich your capacity to plan, implement and evaluate your future tasks as protectors of civilians in peace support operations,” said Rwanda Defence Force Maj. Gen. Innocent Kabandana, a Shared Accord exercise co-director. “Thus, the collective planning and preparation of such an exercise has been fruitful since the interoperability and cooperation thereby sought are crucial to achieve the desired success in peace operations.”