STUTTGART, Germany —This week more than 60 participants from the U.S., Africa partner nations and multinational forces gathered together to continue planning efforts for Justified Accord 2023—U.S. Africa Command’s largest East Africa military training exercise.
JA23, tentatively scheduled for February 2023, is a combined joint command post (CPX), field training (FTX) and maritime training (MTX) exercise that includes an academic training module geared to prepare regional partners for crisis response, peacekeeping operations and to help build readiness for a joint force.
U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) staff is leading the planning efforts along with the Kenya Defence Forces and other partner nations for JA23.
After the successful JA22 iteration, planners for JA23 are identifying more capabilities to offer partner nations, such as cyber security, are integrating emerging technologies and also increasing the number of participants.
During opening remarks AFRICOM, Deputy Commander J3-5 (Exercises), Lt. Col. Adam McCombs said, “For JA23 and going forward, the biggest item that I want everyone to take away from this week is that the exercise is nested under the East Africa campaign plan that is based on working with our partners in the East Africa region with better synchronization and coordination, information and intelligence sharing against what we know are the common threats in East Africa.”
“Throughout JA23 we will conduct a FTX and a CPX and other related activities to increase the stability and capabilities of the participating partner nations,” Austin Blessard, SETAF-AF, G7, lead JA23 exercise planner, explained. “The IPE [Initial Planning event] is important because it lays the groundwork for the actual JA23 exercise operations. The previous CDE [Concept Development event] is when we talk about the planning efforts that we want to develop, but the IPE is where the rubber meets the road and we lay down the groundwork by solidifying our requirements and make sure all equities are represented.”
“The CPX scenario is what drives our ability to train U.S. Forces, African partner nations and multinational allies. The CPX allows to evaluate readiness, drive interoperability—it basically allows us to put different partners together to enable them to communicate together, work together and get after the interoperability portion of this training,” said Forrest McKinley, SETAF-AF exercises CPX scenario lead planner. “It also gives us a chance to look at the exercise objectives and integrate those into the overall plan, things like peace support operations, counterterrorism, counter-VEO [Violent Extremist Organizations] stability operations and conducting border security from a headquarters.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to participate in the JA23 exercise,” said Botswana Army Col. Opasitse Ontse, Assistant Chief of Staff, G7 Training. “Botswana used to participate in UN and AU mandated events and sponsored exercises. For a short period we had not participated in some of these UN and AU mandated missions so we are very much looking forward to seeing how we can participate, what other countries are providing for support and learning more for our interoperability capacity between our countries.”
“After the end of the IPE we want a solid way forward so we can inform the leadership from SETAF-AF, AFRICOM and country teams what we will garner from JA23 and to demonstrate what it means to be a preferred partner of the United States,” said Blessard.
Justified Accord is a key element in a broader series of military-to-military activities that demonstrate the strong partnership between the U.S., African partners and NATO allies.