ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Exercise Justified Accord 2019 came to an end July 30, with a closing ceremony held at the Peace Support Training Center.
Justified Accord is a U.S. Army Africa-led exercise designed to enhance the capacity and capability of participating staff and forces in peacekeeping operations in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Over 1,000 military and government personnel from Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Somalia, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the event.
“It's all about strengthening partner networks,” said Col. John Harris, the U.S. Army Africa training and exercises director and JA19 deputy director. “We're stronger together when we work together.”
The exercise took place in two locations in Ethiopia: Addis Ababa, where the command post exercise (CPX) took place, and the Hurso Training Center, near Dire Dawa, where the field training exercise (FTX) occurred.
The CPX in Addis Ababa started with a series of academic classes and ended with a cumulative exercise that was designed to test the interoperability of the troop contributing nations to AMISOM, Harris said.
“Our main focus is getting the troop contributing nations from AMISOM together and do a staff post exercise to work on their staff procedures and enhance their capabilities to do peacekeeping operations,” he said.
The CPX consisted of a series of 147 scenarios that were designed to train the participants in an environment similar to what they might encounter in Somalia, said Royal Dutch Army Lt. Col. Ben Doomernik, the JA19 joint exercise control group deputy director.
“Each event they analyzed would lead to a bigger story line,” Doomernik said. “If they analyze (the incidents) correctly, they would prevent an event from happening, but if they don't, a major incident would happen to them which they would have to reanalyze.”
While the CPX focused on staff procedures, the FTX was more about field level operations. U.S. Soldiers from infantry, military police, explosive ordinance disposal and engineering units were all present to work with the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) through different situational training exercise (STX) lanes to better enhance the field capabilities and build relationships with the ENDF.
“We are out here trying to foster a relationship with the ENDF,” said 1st Lt. Max Kingsley, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. “Part of that involves teaching classes about how we do certain tactical tasks to share knowledge with the Ethiopians who are about to deploy to Somalia.”
JA19 also allowed the U.S. Soldiers to hone their own skills, Kingsley said. They experienced deploying to an austere environment and working together with partner nations.
“The big takeaway we hope to leave here with is obviously a relationship between the ENDF and the U.S. military,” Kingsley said. “Hopefully, down the road (we can) make this a regular occurrence where the Ethiopian military is an organization we continue work with regularly and can learn from and step outside our usual environments and hone our skills as well as share our knowledge.”
Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general and JA19 co-director, closed the exercise with remarks that summed up the importance of this event.
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of exercises like Justified Accord,” Flora said. “They not only contribute to the readiness of African nations and peacekeeping operations, but they also provide valuable opportunities to work together and create professional relationships and friendships.
“At the start of the exercises we worked as individuals and individual countries. During the training we came together overcoming language barriers and cultural differences in order to achieve a shared goal. In the beginning I watched as peers from the same countries worked and ate together. By the end we were united both planning and socializing as one multinational team.”