Ghana, USARAF kickoff Western Accord 13
July 18, 2013
ACCRA, Ghana -- Ghana Armed Forces along with U.S. Army Africa hosted the opening ceremony for Western Accord 13, June 17, at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, Accra, Ghana.
U.S. engagement with countries in Africa is not new. For the past few decades, America has partnered with African militaries in medical capacity-building events and various training exercises. Western Accord 13 looks to enhance, build capability or capacity and exercise the ability of the Economic Community of West African States to conduct peacekeeping and stability operations.
The ceremony began with opening remarks from the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz, Brig. Gen. O. B. Akwa, exercise director and Maj. Gen. Eric Vollmecke, exercise deputy director from USARAF.
"The exercise will help to build the defense capacity of the U.S. forces, Ghana Armed Forces, and partner nations from ECOWAS supporting missions throughout Western Africa. Exercises like this provide the opportunity for us to learn from each other, said Vollmecke. "Over the next two weeks, we will work together with Ghanaian military forces to improve our collective ability to provide command and control during peace operations."
The exercise will be conducted in two phases -- academics and a command post exercise. In part I, participants will receive academics focused on collective tasks, functional, and staff procedures in support of command and control of a peacekeeping operation based on real world events. In part II, a command post exercise, a brigade headquarters staff will prepare and then execute its plan to move forces into a contested area, defeat terrorists, and restore basic services and the rule of law while setting the stage for national reconciliation. The increased cooperation with African partners enhances mutual understanding and increases stability and security across the continent.
"We will share with mid- and junior-level leaders how the U.S. Army conducts planning, intelligence, sustainment and comprehensive communications," Vollmecke said. "And in the true spirit of joint operations, a small contingent of U.S. Marines are here to train two platoons of the Ghanaian Army on non-lethal weapons and civil control methods."
Approximately 300 military personnel from ECOWAS and the U.S., and observers from several neighboring countries will participate in this exercise.
"As a testament to the commitment to regional cooperation, 12 African countries are represented during Western Accord," Vollmecke said. "I would also like to recognize the contingent of European Union nations here to observe. We appreciate the support of our total Army force -- including the participants from North Dakota's 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division from Kansas, as well as from the U.S. Army War College, the Mission Command Trainers from Kansas and many other units."
Vollmecke added that through the State Partnership Program, North Dakota is a country-partner with Ghana and conducts numerous military-to-military exchanges and training events each year, so for some of them, this is certainly not their first time to this welcoming nation.
USARAF is committed to partnering with African countries to showcase military interoperability. This dynamic process and the further development of relationships build capacity and strengthen military-to-military relationships and regional security in West Africa. This exercise is an example of U.S. Army Africa's commitment to strengthening its relationships with partner nations in Africa.