Archive for the 'Exercises' Category

10 Things about Western Accord

During June 26 to July 24, 2012, more than 1,200 military service men and women are participating in Western Accord, an inaugural exercise in Thiés, Senegal, designed to improve peacekeeping capabilities and proficiencies. Participating nations this year include Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, The Gambia and France, along with another 600 military personnel from the United States. Below are ten facts regarding the exercise.

1.  Exercise Western Accord 2012 is a multi-lateral training exercise with West African nations to increase understanding and interoperability, prevent conflict by enabling Africans to provide for their security and stability, strengthen relationships with partner nations, and promote and support U.S. national security priorities.  Task Force Commander, Colonel Anthony Fernandez, III said, “Our combined efforts and shared purpose will not only pave the way for future regional exercises but also forge a personal bond amongst our warriors.”

2.  Western Accord 2012 is led by U.S. Marine Forces Africa and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.

3.  The exercise includes: live-fire and combat marksmanship training, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, and intelligence capacity building.

4. Concurrent with the exercise, U.S.military professionals from the Vermont Army National Guard, along with a Senegalese Medical Detachment, will provide medical assistance to the local residents in and around the communities of Dakar and Thiés.

5.  The U.S. and African medical and dental staffs  treated nearly 1,800 patients in Senegal during Western Accord 2012.  “It’s a great opportunity,” said Air Force Captain Jason Galipeau, the project officer with the 158th Fighter Wing located in South Burlington, Virginia. “It feels great. It is something that will stick with [the service members] through their whole career.”

6.  Participating U.S. forces include Marines from the 3rd Battalion and 25th Marine Regiment, who will be making up the primary element of the task force, along with reservists from all across the U.S. to include the 4th Medical Battalion, Vermont Army National Guard, and Marine Wing Support Squadron 473.  “It’s been a really great experience being able to share and work with our African partners.  I think it’s important for us to be on the same level of training as much as we can be,” said Lance Corporal Ryan M. Logan, an assistant gunner, Lima Company, 3/25.

7.  One theme of the exercise is listening to the perspectives of African leaders and citizens.  This enables participants to understand the challenges Africans face, to conduct programs in response to their requests, and to ensure their security needs are being met.

8.  Western Accord is designed to provide combined arms training for ground combat elements while simultaneously providing humanitarian assistance to local residents.

9. As part of Western Accord 2012, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment will be spending time with joint forces from the various West African nations to train and exchange their shared experiences of non-lethal weapons and crowd-control tactics.  “First thing we did was find out what kind of experiences they had because it’s a possibility they have more real-world experience in these kinds of scenarios than us.  We also want to know what they can teach us,” said Sergeant Jonah L. Saylers, an instructor for non-lethal weapons and crowd control techniques from Lima Company, 3/25.

10.  Distinguished visitors of Western Accord 2012 included: General Carter F. Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Jones, U.S. Defense Attaché to Senegal; Colonel Douglas Fairfeld, chief of staff for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa; The Honorable Robert Yamate, Charge d’Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar; Brigadier General Richard N. Harris Jr., chief of joint staff of the Vermont Air National Guard; Admiral Ousmane, Ibrahima Sall, deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Senegal; Brigadier General Pape Samba Kamara, chief of the Senegalese army; Brigadier General Gregoire Saint-Quentin, commander, French Elements in Senegal; Colonel Vinta Some, Burkina Faso Contingent commander, ECOWAS Standby Force; Abdoulie Kah, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defense, Gambia; Brigadier General Namory Traore, deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Guinea.

10 Things About Africa Endeavor

Here’s a brief intro to the annual exercise Africa Endeavor, going on right now:

1) In cooperation with the Armed Forces of Cameroon and the support of the African Union, U.S. Africa Command is sponsoring Africa Endeavor 2012, the largest military communications interoperability and information sharing exercise in Africa

During Africa Endeavor 2011 last year, Mauritian Lt. Azize Saud Ghingut holds the antenna for a spectrum analyzer, used to show radio frequency emitters in a search for interference sources, during a practical exercise at Africa Endeavor, Falajar Barracks, The Gambia, July 15, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel T. West, 358th PAD)

2) The exercise will be held June 18 to 27, 2012, in Douala, Cameroon. Look for our regular feature on African nations, “Africa Snapshot”, highlighting Cameroon next week.

3) About 35 African nations and 250 participants, including Africans, Europeans, Canadians and Americans, will be involved in Africa Endeavor 2012.

4) Africa Endeavor 2012 is modeled after Combined Endeavor, the largest command, control, communications and computers interoperability event in the world. Combined Endeavor is sponsored by U.S. European Command and draws 1,400 communications professionals from more than 40 NATO and Partnership for Peace countries each year.

5)  Ensuring African nations can communicate smoothly with each other in times of crisis is critical to peacekeeping and regional stability. Africa Endeavor 2012 focuses on testing command, control, communications and information systems to prepare for future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping, peace support and anti-terrorism operations.

6) One of U.S. Africa Command’s goals is to help its partner African nations improve their military capabilities. The exercise was planned together to identify, test, and document how different communications systems and other systems work together. Read about the initial planning conference, hosted by Lesotho, and the final planning conference, hosted by Ghana.

7) The results from the tests will help improve support of the African Union and its Standby Force by creating a common standard for joint military operations in the future.

8) After the exercise is finished, an updated African Interoperability Guide will be produced.

9) The first Africa Endeavor was held in over five days in 2006 in South Africa. Participants came from 24 African nations. Read about that first Africa Endeavor exercise.

10) Each year, the exercise builds on its learnings from the year before. Watch a video of the opening ceremony of Africa Endeavor last year, in Banjul, The Gambia.

Starting this week, you can find stories, photos, video and more covering Africa Endeavor on our website, Flickr page and YouTube channel. For frequent updates, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

If you are participating in Africa Endeavor, tag your Tweets with #AfricaEndeavor and post your thoughts from the exercise on our Facebook wall.

10 Things about Phoenix Express 2012

SOUDA BAY, Crete (May 9, 2012) – Chief Fire Controlman Timothy Wheeler, a member of the boarding team from guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56), secures a stairway during an exercise aboard the training ship Aris at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center during Phoenix Express 2012 (PE12). PE12, a multi-national maritime exercise between Southern European, North African and U.S. Naval forces, is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations and help increase safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian A. Goyak/Released)

Phoenix Express is an at-sea exercise designed to improve cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. Representatives from North African and Southern European countries and the U.S. practice tactics and share techniques. Here’s a brief introduction:

1) This is the seventh time Phoenix Express has occurred. (Check out one story from Phoenix Express 2011.)

2) The exercise this spring runs from May 7 to May 30, 2012.

 3) Phoenix Express is one of four African “Express” exercises designed to test skills learned in previous training events. (Read about Saharan Express, which recently wrapped up.)

4) Representatives from 11 countries are participating or observing this time: Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and United States.

5) The exercise is packed with learning and sharing. Scenarios involve search and rescue, boarding drills, communication drills and information management techniques. Workshops will also be held on such topics as operations and safety, damage control and firefighting, deck seamanship, navigation, small boat operations and leadership, and more.

6) Why is the U.S. participating? One part of the overall strategy of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) is to enhance regional stability by strengthening maritime partnerships. As General Ham, AFRICOM commander, wrote in his 2012 Posture Statement, “Our objectives for maritime security include developing maritime domain awareness, increasing response capabilities, and fostering regional integration and cooperation.”

7) The guided-missile frigate USS Simpson is part of the exercise.

8) A portion of the exercise will be held at NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Center in Souda Bay, Greece. The center was established in 2003 to focus on Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) training.

9) The exercise offers the opportunity to learn before real-life situations occur. “One of the biggest obstacles we encountered was the language barrier,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brenton Paulk, a staff instructor from Rota, Spain. “It’s something we are learning to overcome during our training, and I think learning how to interact with other nations will be helpful during real-world maritime interdiction operation.” (Read more: “PE12 Continues Multinational Training, Promotes Teamwork“)

10) Phoenix Express 2012 also includes a medical component. U.S. medical personnel from  the U.S. Army Reserve 396th Combat Support Hospital shared techniques such as applying tourniquets.

Read more:

PE12 Continues Multinational Training, Promotes Teamwork

“Phoenix Express 2012 Conducts MIO Training” 

“Phoenix Express 2012 Begins in Souda Bay”

View photos on Flickr:

Phoenix Express 2012 

African Lion by the numbers

African Lion, the annual training exercise between Morocco and U.S., is underway right now. The exercise is led by Marine Forces Africa and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command. The training includes  command post, live-fire and maneuvering, peace keeping operations, an intelligence capacity building seminar, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects.

Here’s a recap so far, by the numbers, with links to related stories and photos.

A member of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces prepares to ride in an assault amphibious vehicle with Marines from Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit during the bi-lateral training exercise African Lion 12 on the shores of Morocco, April 12, 2012. The training allowed the Marines to introduce the Moroccan troops to the unique capabilities of the assault amphibious vehicle that the Marines drove to the beach that morning from the USS New York off the coast of Morocco. (24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Photo by Corporal Michael Petersheim)

The first year of African Lion was 2008. Each year, African Lion has been hosted by Morocco, which has about 32 million people.

This year, more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel, including about 800+ Marines, and  900 Royal Moroccan soldiers are working together during the 10-day exercise.

To support the mission, U.S. Marines offloaded 169 pieces of rolling stock assets in under 12 hours at the Port of Agadir.

four-day Intelligence Capacity Building Workshop helped prepare senior staff officers from both countries who will participate in the Command Post Exercise portion.

Marines are using a Tactical Water Purification System, which weighs 10,000 pounds, to purify approximately 10,000 gallons of water a day by pumping it through a series of filters. The water supports the soldiers involved in the training exercises.

Four Rapid Response Kits allowed the military to get up and communicating quickly.

About 70 medical and dental staff will help treat 1,000 local patients daily as part of the humanitarian civil assistance project of African Lion.

On a quieter and tragic note, we can not overlook the two Marines who were killed and two Marines who were severely injured in an MV-22 Osprey crash earlier this week during African Lion 12. Our thoughts go out to the families. The crash is currently under investigation.

African Lion 12 ends April 18, 2012.

For more on African Lion, visit the U.S. Africa Command website.

Africa Snapshot: Morocco

U.S. Africa Command is responsible for military relations with 54 African countries across the continent. Morocco is one of the northernmost, located in West Africa, bordered on one side by the North Atlantic Ocean and by Algeria on the other. This month Morocco is host to African Lion, a Marine Forces Africa partnership exercise that focuses on air and land combat.

CIA World Factbook, Morocco

Population: About 32.3 million people live in Morocco. Of 238 countries listed in the CIA Factbook, Morocco ranks 38th in size.

Languages: Arabic is the official language, but French is also widely spoken, especially in government and business. The indigenous Berber dialects are also spoken.

Religion: Predominantly Islam.

Politics: Hereditary monarchy with a prime minister chosen from the largest party in parliament. In the wake of the Arab Spring last year and protests in his country, King Mohammed VI agreed to some constitutional reforms.

Geography: Morocco covers about 446,000 square kilometers and is slightly larger than the size of California. The northern coast is mountainous and prone to earthquakes.

Strategic importance: The country sits on the Strait of Gibraltar, an important trade route that allows ships to pass from the Mediterranean Sea directly to the Atlantic Ocean. At its narrowest point, the strait separates Europe and Africa by just 8 miles.

CIA World Factbook Morocco

Border controversy: Morocco claimed sovereignty over the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara, to the south, in 1979, prompting a guerrilla war that ended in a 1991 UN-brokered ceasefire. A referendum was promised to decide Western Sahara’s fate but so far has not happened.

U.S. Partnerships: African Lion, currently taking place in Morocco,  is the largest bilateral exercise on the continent.

You might know it because: Morocco is home to the city of Casablanca, made famous in America by the iconic 1942 film named after it. The movie was not actually filmed in Morocco, but on studio sets in California.

Sources: CIA Fact Book, U.S. Department of

(To learn more about Africa, watch for our occasional “Africa Snapshot” series. Our previous snapshot featured Benin, a small country on the Gulf of Guinea.)

Maritime Safety and Security Seminar one piece of AFRICOM effort

“We believe that security of the seas is essential for global security. There is a relationship between security of the sea, the ability of countries to govern their waters, a country’s prosperity, stability and peace. The oceans of the world are a common bond between the economies and countries of the world. Seventy percent of the world is water, 80% of the world lives on or near the coastline and 90% of the world’s commerce is transported on the ocean. Individual nations cannot combat maritime problems and crimes alone …”

— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa

This week’s Maritime Safety and Security Seminar in Benin is just one example of how U.S. Africa Command, its components, agencies and partner nations work to combat piracy and other maritime security challenges off Africa’s 18,000 miles of coastline. That meeting kicked off yesterday and continues today, with top leaders from the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States. The meeting is a continuation of one held last year where the two organizations and their country representatives talked about ways to work together to improve maritime safety and security, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.

Countering piracy and illicit trafficking is one of AFRICOM’s top priorities, according to Gen. Carter F. Ham. In his recently released 2012 Posture Statement outlining AFRICOM’s goals and priorities, Gen. Ham highlighted the importance of maritime security.

“The free flow of commerce through the global commons is essential to U.S. economic and security interests,” he said. “Piracy and other maritime crimes negatively impact the security and freedom of access for all nations to critical waterways and continue to threaten U.S. security in the waters off the East and West coast of Africa.”

The command’s two primary anti-piracy and maritime security programs are Africa Partnership Station (APS)  and Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP), both lead by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, based in Naples, Italy.

An amphibious assault vehicle with 3rd Platoon, Delta Compay, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, moves out to the USS Whidbey Island, March 20 at Onslow Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Thirty-six Marines with the platoon conducted reintegration exercises from March 19 – 22 in preparation for their deployment with the Africa Partnership Station 2012 this year. Read a story about their preparation. (Photo by Sgt. Bryan A. Peterson)

APS, in its fifth year, involves Navy ships that visit our African partners to conduct training and exchange information. The Navy likens it to a “floating university.” This year’s APS kicked off in January and includes the USS Simpson, the USS Fort McHenry and the HSV Swift, along with some 19 African countries plus partners from Europe and North and South America. Recent APS engagements include combat lifesaver training in Cameroon, and a 27-day ship visit aboard the USS Simpson for sailors from Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Togo.

The goals of APS are to deter piracy, discourage illicit trafficking of drugs and persons and impede drug smuggling.

AMLEP, on the other hand, includes actual law enforcement operations with partner nations. U.S. forces team up with regional navies and coast guards to patrol and enforce their own territorial waters in order to combat piracy, illicit trafficking and other maritime crimes.

Click the links below to learn more about these and other maritime security initiatives:

2012 AFRICOM Posture Statement

AFRICOM fact sheet on APS

AFRICOM fact sheet on AMLEP

APS Facebook page 

Fast facts: Medical Accord Central 12

Gabon Defense Forces Sgt. Maj. Nguema E. Clotaire, a flight surgeon, and 1st Lt. Jolin O. Sossa, a medical student, discuss military health care with U.S. Army Maj. Samuel Bayles, a psychiatrist with Co. A, 94th Combat Support Hospital, U.S. Army Reserve, during Medical Accord Central 12 in Libreville, Gabon.(Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102d Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Mississippi Army National Guard.)

Medical Accord Central 12 is one of several annual exercises between the U.S. military and our African partners. Here are some fast facts courtesy of the U.S. Army’s daily news page and U.S. Army Africa, plus some links, to tell you more about this unique shared training.


Medical Accord Central 12 brings together a mix of U.S. military doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and other medical professionals with their counterparts from the Gabon Defence Force. Other African partner nations are also observing. U.S. participants include members of the Mississippi and Utah National Guard and Army Reservists from Arkansas and Texas, plus representatives from the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute in Texas. The annual training is hosted by U.S. Army Africa on behalf of U.S. Africa Command.


Training and knowledge-sharing, with a focus on medical support to disaster response and humanitarian relief efforts. The exercise includes lectures, classes and hands-on training.  The event was planned jointly by the U.S. military and Gabon Defense Forces. Each partner leads different portions of the training.


Gabon, in Central Africa. Next year the exercise will take place in Angola.


The exercise kicked off March 5 and runs through March 16. Planning started a year ago, including site surveys and rehearsals.


Not only does the exercise help both the U.S. and African medical units improve their skills and ability to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, it creates a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding between professional military organizations. Medical Accord Central 12, and exercises like it, ultimately contribute to a long-term vision of increased stability and security on the continent.


U.S. Army Africa 

Utah National Guard

Mississippi National Guard

Medical Accord Central 12 helps in building partnerships

U.S. Army News From Africa 

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