Major Eric Hilliard, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Office, is in Port Louis, Mauritius for the initial planning conference for Africa Endeavor 2011, a U.S. AFRICOM annual communications exercise which focuses on interoperability and information-sharing between African nations.
“First of all, I would like to thank our host nation partners Mauritius for welcoming us here and hosting this conference.” These were the words of the Africa Endeavor exercise director Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Todd Hannah.
His words during an impromptu interview requested by the Mauritius Broadcasting Company paved the way for a successful though brief interview with nation’s leading television station.
One of the first questions out of the reporter’s mouth was, “Why did you chose Mauritius?” To which Colonel Hannah responded promptly, “I didn’t….the African nation’s participating in the exercise selected Mauritius as the location for this planning conference.”
What Colonel Hannah did at that very moment was to take away the presumption that the United States is driving this exercise and placed the responsibility for conducting this exercise right where it belongs…in the hands of the African partners. Way to go, sir.
Overall, the goal of the Africa Endeavor exercise series is to develop command, control and communication tactics, techniques and procedures that can be used by the African Union in support of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping missions. Yes, a peaceful and secure Africa supports U.S. interests. But, more than anything, this is an African issue. From a bystander’s perspective, it is great to see so many representatives from the many different nations, regions and economic communities come together in hopes of resolving a common problem–effective communications between neighbors in times of crises.
Today was the first day of the conference and the delegates are not wasting time. They have already reviewed the accomplishments of 2010 and are validating requirements and training topics for 2011.
Africans working together to solve African issues–this is a recipe for success…no matter how you look at it. I am pleased that U.S. Africa Command has the opportunity to offer input at this event which is so important to improving communications capacity in African nations.
Three more days to go. Next planning conference is in January and the actual exercise is in late June 2011 in Bamako, Mali. Look forward to great things to come.
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