Newest major non-NATO ally Kenya, US begin planning Justified Accord 2025

VICENZA, Italy — The initial planning event for exercise Justified Accord 2025 (JA25) took place from June 10-13, setting the stage for the multinational military exercise scheduled for Feb. 10-21, 2025 in Kenya. The planning event comes less than a month after U.S. President Joe Biden named Kenya a major non-NATO ally, the first in sub-Saharan Africa.


“We made good progress this week and I’m happy we managed to establish a new function in the staff: a diplomat serving as a civil representative to the military command. Modern conflicts have an increasing civil component, so civil considerations become an essential capability.” Lt. Col. Cees van Doorn, Dutch Army exercise planner for JA25
By Maj. Joe Legros U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa Vicenza, Italy Jun 20, 2024
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VICENZA, Italy — The initial planning event (IPE) for exercise Justified Accord 2025 (JA25) took place from June 10-13, setting the stage for the multinational military exercise scheduled for Feb. 10-21, 2025 in Kenya. This critical event brought together a diverse delegation, including representatives from the Kenya Air Force, Navy and Army, to collaborate on the strategic and logistical aspects of the upcoming exercise.

The planning event comes less than a month after U.S. President Joe Biden named Kenya a major non-NATO ally, the first in sub-Saharan Africa.

JA25 is poised to be a significant military exercise aimed at enhancing cooperation and interoperability among participating nations. The event in Vicenza focused on fine-tuning the operational framework, ensuring that all participating forces are prepared for the challenges ahead. This year’s exercise will prominently feature a multinational field training exercise at the Counter Insurgency, Terrorism and Stability Operations Centre (CITSO) in Nanyuki, Kenya.

The conference was hosted by exercise planners with U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) and was attended by key military leaders and planners from Kenya, Italy, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

"The initial planning event is focused on building a detailed plan that focuses on interoperability, readiness and ensuring everything is joint and combined since that is the way we will operate in a crisis," said Mr. Eldridge Browne, chief of exercises, SETAF-AF. “The IPE offers a great opportunity to work side-by-side with U.S., European and African partners, to ensure we have shared objectives, bring different experiences together and build complex training scenarios that are realistic so we can execute great training during JA25."

Discussions centered on coordination of activities, resource allocation and the development of training scenarios that reflect real-world security challenges. The involvement of a delegation from the Kenya Defence Forces underscored the collaborative spirit of the exercise.

JA25 brings together a number of different African partner nations, emphasizing the importance of regional security cooperation and collective defense. CITSO in Nanyuki serves as the central hub for the field training exercise, where forces engage in a variety of simulated operations designed to enhance their counter-terrorism and peacekeeping capabilities.

One of the major highlights is the multinational air-to-ground integration, where partner nation forces control Kenyan air assets in support of ground maneuvers. This aspect of the exercise tests and enhances the coordination between air and ground units, a critical component of modern military operations.

“This is my first time supporting Justified Accord and I am extremely excited to work with our joint and multinational partners to enhance our partnerships,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joe Severin, exercise planner with 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron. “Working with my Kenya Air Force counterpart, Maj. Muthuri, has been absolutely critical to planning a robust air to ground integration training plan for the exercise. I think we will all take away great lessons on how we can continue to operate together safely and effectively.”

Meanwhile, Nairobi’s Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) plays host to academic instruction, featuring Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Rule of Law workshops.

“WPS emphasizes the importance of women in civilian and military decision-making positions,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Knipfer, a gender focal point with the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron. “Specific to Justified Accord, we’ll assess Kenya’s and other partner nation forces’ ability to adapt and consider gender-based exercise ‘injects’ such as encountering women and children on a battlefield.”

Dutch Army counterpart, Lt. Col. Cees van Doorn, exercise planner for JA25, was also excited about civilian considerations.

“We made good progress this week and I’m happy we managed to establish a new function in the staff: a diplomat serving as a civil representative to the military command. Modern conflicts have an increasing civil component, so civil considerations become an essential capability.”

Closely related, the Rule of Law forum focuses on how legal advisors impact the preparation for peacekeeping operations throughout Africa.

“Our goal with Rule of Law is to strengthen the relationship between military legal council and commanders,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Reneka Redmond, division chief of rule of law, SETAF-AF. “Working together builds trust and increases accountability. In other words, legal council can advise commanders on things such as the rules of engagement. But the lynchpin is that same commander who needs to ensure legal advice is passed along to those serving under him or her.”

The inclusion of academics and field training among multiple African partner nations is a testament to the growing emphasis on regional collaboration in addressing security threats. HPSS and CITSO, each with state-of-the-art facilities, provide ideal settings for mutually beneficial training.

Browne emphasized that JA25 is expected to showcase the capabilities and readiness of participating forces while reinforcing the bonds of cooperation. He said that this is vital for maintaining peace and security in the region and preparing all the nations to work together in the event of a crisis.

"Through detailed planning, we are building upon the success of previous engagements with our Kenyan, other East African nations and European partners. Together we are committed to ensuring JA25 is a success,” said Browne.

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