THIES, Senegal - U.S Army Africa personnel, in partnership with Senegalese armed forces and African partner nations, engaged in the United Accord 20 main planning event Dec. 9 – 13, at the Regional Tactical Training Center in Thies, Senegal.
Five Western partner nations and 13 African partner nations with broad experience in regional peacekeeping operations contributed to the planning event hosted by the SAF.
"Having a lot of partners involved brings in all the different perspectives, experience and knowledge from previous peacekeeping missions,” said Anthony Blaine, the USARAF lead planner for exercise.
United Accord 20 is part of the ongoing Accord exercise series hosted by U.S. Army Africa to collaborate on training for regional peacekeeping operations through events including a command post exercise, engineering tasks and a field training exercise.
While planning efforts have been ongoing since November 2018, the MPE allows the various key leaders involved in the main exercise to meet face to face and address key planning efforts head-on.
“Really, the experience comes out, not through systems and lists, but through stories … you’ve got to do that in real-time with people present in the room,” Blaine said.
“We can share ideas and learn how other countries work, and to share the way each country plans,” said Maj. Lagnate Carna, an officer in the Guinea-Bissau army. “I think it’s very interesting.”
Over the five-day planning event, attendees were able to accomplish much of the behind-the-scenes work necessary for a successful exercise: building the event scenarios, establishing the security plans and addressing logistics and communication needs.
The goal of United Accord 20 is for participants to increase capabilities to plan and employ their forces to effectively counter violent extremist organizations which will enhance regional security.
United Accord 20 prioritizes relationship building and sharpening skills to conduct future peacekeeping operations in support of the United Nations and African Union mandates in West Africa.
“We live in a global village and issues of this nature require collaboration,” said Maj. Lamin Sanyang, a public affairs officer in the Gambia army. “So pooling resources and personnel here gives us the opportunity to tap into the experience from all persons.”
“I think it’s incredibly important,” said Capt. Ben Humphreys, an intelligence officer in the British army. “Our battalion is going to be deploying later on next year, so it will be good to get our heads in the game.”
United Accord 20 launches in June.