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Gambia hosts Military Conference today

Apr 4, 2011, 1:08 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Gambia will host a major military conference, from 4 to 7 April at the Kairaba Beach Hotel known as the African Endeavour (AE) which is the US Africa Command's annual communications exercise that focuses on interoperability and information sharing among United States' African partners.

According to US Embassy sources in Banjul, the goal is to develop command, control and communication tactics, techniques and procedures that can be used by the AU in support of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and peacekeeping missions.

Two US Marine Corps are currently in town ahead of the exercise, and last Wednesday held a briefing at the American Corner with the Gambian soldiers that are also expecting to participate in today’s conference.

Speaking in a brief interview with this reporter, Master Sergeant Evgene Holiday J. US Marine Crop, AFRICOM, C4 system J6 Chief, said they are here to hold an exercise and training conference, the African Endeavor for 2011.

"The importance of this conference to the military is to teach our African partners. It helps communication among them, including standardize the way they communicate in case of emergency," he said.

He further that announced that 40 African countries are also expected to attend this military conference, and each country will send four to five participants.

 The essence, he added, is that when natural disaster happens, it helps countries to come together and give a helping hand in case of humanitarian crises.

The first AE was held in 2006 in South Africa.  Subsequent exercises took place in Nigeria (2008), Gabon (2009), and in Ghana (2010).

Africa Endeavour 2010 included participants from 35 African nations, three international organizations (AU, ECOWAS, and ECCAS), two European partners (Switzerland and Sweden) and the United States. 

Over 35 African nations are currently planning to participate in Africa Endeavor 2011.

Africa Endeavor's primary objective is to help increase the command, control and communications capacities (C4) of African nations by encouraging interoperable tactics, training, and procedures and creating documented C4 systems standards supporting coalition interoperability.

Increasing the C4 capacity allows the participating nations to provide critical C4 capabilities to the AU and to African standby forces. 

Additionally, the exercise fosters an environment that facilitates information sharing and human interoperability across borders, and language and cultural barriers.

The participating nations take an active role in shaping the exercise according to their requirements. 

The planning  ofconferences and exercise locations are nominated and voted on by the delegation chiefs from each nation (US does not vote) with the intent focused on each region being afforded an opportunity to host a planning conference or exercise. 

The participants also decide on the exercise objectives, training goals, exercise agenda and format.  Africa Endeavor gives participating nations the opportunity to communicate with other countries, even those outside their region.

Additionally, this exercise creates important personal relationships between communicators from throughout the African continent.  These human relationships enhance the ability of African nations to support multinational operations, respond to crisis and avoid conflict.

This paper has been reliably informed that the African Endeavour has trained more than 1200 communications specialists from more than 35 countries, since 2006. 

This interoperability training is said to have enhanced the ability of African nations to support peacekeeping and other operations through-out the continent.

A highlight of this year's exercise was a first-ever communication link and scenario with the African Union PSOC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.