A ten-day African Endeavour Test Exercise 2011, an American government initiative in partnership with the African Union aimed at developing command, control and communication tactics, techniques and procedures, ended in Banjul last Thursday.
The exercise, which attracted military and civilian participants from over 40 countries from the continent and beyond, was among others meant to give the participating nations the opportunity to test their military communication equipment with a view to harmonizing their interoperability for future support of the Africa Standby Force Operations.
The African Endeavour can be used by the African Union Standby Force in support of peace keeping, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations and counter terrorism operations.
Additionally, the exercise fosters an environment that facilitates information-sharing and human interoperability across borders, and language and cultural barriers.
Addressing the gathering at the closing ceremony on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh, the Vice President Ajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy said that, since the African Endeavour initiative began, about 1,200 communication specialists from more than 35 countries have been trained. This, she added, has greatly contributed in enhancing the support of the international peace-keeping operations.
According to her, having successfully gone through this very important exercise, participants would have to take the opportunity to communicate and interact with each other.
She commended the efforts of the US government through its Department of Defence for the trust and confidence bestowed on the Gambia Armed Forces and the Government of the Gambia by accepting Banjul to host the 2011 African Endeavour.
General Carter F. Ham, visiting United States Army General who is the Commander of US Africa Command, said the African Endeavour communication test exercise 2011 was the largest exercise to be held in Africa, since its inception.
He further stated that all the participating nations and international organizations contributed significantly towards the success of this year’s exercise.
“African Endeavour is an important step in strengthening the development of interoperable communication systems between African nations and African organizations. In this year’s exercise, three sites have been identified to test the ability to communicate, and they are The Gambia, ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa,” he added.
He said communication is critical in addressing destabilizing issues both between nations, regions, and all across Africa.
“Communications is the key to peace keeping operations, and in responding to natural and humanitarian disasters,” General Ham further noted.
He believes that the African Endeavour fosters dialogue among the participating nations, leading them to develop and strengthening strategies, and regional partnerships. He said the exercise showcases how African nations are working together to develop regional partnerships to increase stability and security for all nations.
The US Ambassador to The Gambia, Pamela Ann White, renewed her government’s commitment in working with The Gambia, noting that her government is proud to support The Gambia in a variety of ways.
“I know I told you to talk, talk, talk, but I hope that you have listened as well. I hope that you have made new friends, learned new ways of operating, found new ways of doing your business better. I hope you have made Africa a safer place,” she told over 100 military officers gathered.
The chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Massaneh N. Kinteh, said the African Endeavour exercise has evolved from the use of country-to-country setting to regional scenarios involving brigade and battalion command post-exercises in which units are able to communicate among themselves, as well as the ECOWAS and AU headquarters.
Lt. General Kinteh said the exercise has provided a solid platform for the partners to communicate well.