US Soldiers participate in multilateral exercise in East Africa

A crowded room buzzes, as voice overlaps voice, 13 languages, 13 countries, each unique; yet all working towards a common goal. In this room, soldiers, police allies and international organizations will spend two weeks collaborating as they develop command practices to ensure successful peacekeeping operations in East Africa.



By By Sgt. Jennifer Garza U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs Aug 18, 2018
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GAKO, Rwanda – A crowded room buzzes, as voice overlaps voice, 13 languages, 13 countries, each unique; yet all working towards a common goal. In this room, soldiers, police allies and international organizations will spend two weeks collaborating as they develop command practices to ensure successful peacekeeping operations in East Africa.

Soldiers from U.S. Army Africa, alongside partner nations, took part in exercise Shared Accord 2018, which is currently taking place at the Rwanda Military Academy in Gako, Rwanda, through Aug. 30. The exercise provides participants the opportunity to train on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

“When peacekeepers were deployed to the Central African Republic in 2014, they helped avert a tragedy,” said Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general, then addressing the audience directly.  “Prepare to be mentors: Capture your lessons learned and be prepared to take them home and share them with your colleagues. The bonds you form and the solutions you develop this week will contribute not only to the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, and peacekeeping operations in general, but can contribute to improved security and stability in Africa. Share your knowledge with others so that the benefits of this exercise continue beyond these two weeks.”

MINUSCA is one of four U.N. missions USARAF uses to building its real-world Accord Series training models. Peacekeeping troop-contributing nations will spend over two weeks working together through relevant scenarios developed from lessons learned during the four-year peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. The purpose of the exercise is to enhance staff capabilities to respond to U.N. and African Union peacekeeping operations, exercise regional interoperability and build stronger partnerships.

“The significance of this multinational and multidimensional exercise that mirrors MINUSCA is stressed by your participation as U.N. members,” Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, the Rwanda Defence Force chief of defence staff, told participants during the opening ceremony. “Today, although U.N. peacekeepers face many challenges and criticism, it remains one of the effective tools available to the international community to respond to global peace and security threats.”

The exercise begins with academic instruction followed by the participants completing an operation order. In the final phase, participants operate in a joint exercise control group where they train on through real-life scenarios like a Soldier dying or a local child being killed in a car accident. More than 100 training injects have been developed to replicate the operational environment of the Central African Republic.

“These exercises are about interoperability,” said Peter J. Jacobs, a civil military operations observer-controller/trainer (OC/T). “If you have to start training to work together during the mission, then you are already too late. There is the science, and then there is the art in how we do our work. The biggest thing to take away is the art of working together.”

According to the U.N., there are about 14,110 total personnel deployed in support of MINUSCA.  MINUSCA was mandated April 10, 2014, to protect civilians, support the transition process, facilitate humanitarian assistance, promote and protect human rights, support justice and the rule of law, and to implement disarmament, demobilization, and the reintegration and repatriation process.

“There is a mandate to protect human rights and a mandate to protect civilians,” said Jan Arno Hessbruegge, a U.N. human rights officer. “These are broader mandates, so we protect all human rights, by way of advocacy, having different projects that include capacity building with the government. Protection of civilians is specifically about violations of violence to include killings, rape and torture.”

MINUSCA was founded after decades of instability and fighting within the Central African Republic. According to the U.N., as of March 2014, over 650,000 people have been internally displaced, with 2.5 million in need of humanitarian aid.

“Over the past years, many countries have stepped up their support and engagement in peace support operations,” said Nyamvumba. “There are significant regional, continental and even global initiatives aimed at understanding the dynamics and challenges that affect peacekeeping and exploring the ways to improve the conduct of peacekeeping operations. Exercises like Shared Accord are another brick in the foundation of that journey.”

 

 

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