East African Troops Train for Peacekeeping Missions at Exercise Justified Accord
More than 800 military personnel from Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and other countries gathered in Kenya and Rwanda for three weeks of field training and command post exercises to strengthen their ability to work together during peacekeeping operations.
The activities were part of the Justified Accord exercise, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF). The exercise ended March 18.
“The entire package of the exercise was tailored to address African Standby Force and U.N. complex multidimensional aspects of peacekeeping and counterterrorism, which is the enduring threat currently being experienced across the entire world,” said Kenyan Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Solomon Manambo, director of National Security Industries.
Justified Accord brought together African nations, U.S. and European military components and international organizations with the goal of promoting interoperability for peacekeeping operations.
A key aspect of Justified Accord is incorporating civilian, police and military in joint training events.
The United Nations has seven peacekeeping operations in Africa, including four of its largest, spread from the Sahel to Central Africa to South Sudan. The African Union operates five peacekeeping operations, including in Somalia where the U.N. also has peacekeeping forces. The AU is taking on more front-line responsibilities for peacekeeping on the continent.
“In recent years, non-UN operations have often been deployed in response to the increasing threats posed by violent extremism, asymmetric warfare, transnational organized crime, as well as climate change,” Gustavo de Carvalho, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, wrote in the IPI Global Observatory. “This opened the space for other organizations to regionally complement the UN’s key mandate of promoting peace and security.”
Exercises like Justified Accord are a key part of ensuring militaries from a variety of countries can work together smoothly when called upon, said Brig. Gen. Ronald A. Cupples, deputy commanding general of SETAF.
Among other activities, militaries that participated in Justified Accord practiced skills such as triage and treatment of wounded personnel, along with urban combat in a mock village.
The cooperation between U.S. and African militaries helped improve communication among the groups and provided a greater understanding of cultural differences and the challenges that remain to be overcome, Cupples said.
“Improving our interoperability is essential,” Cupples said. “When we’re faced with a crisis, that’s not the time to be doing introductions.”