In partnership with Senegal and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), U.S. Army Africa conducted U.S. Africa Command's Exercise Western Accord 14 to enhance ECOWAS ability to provide mission command capability to support regional peace operations. Training focused on developing the ability to plan, deploy, employ, sustain, and redeploy a rapid deployment force in response to a regional crisis. Western Accord 14 is a key element in a broader series of military-to-military activities to demonstrate the strong partnership between the U.S and western regional African partners, and all of the participating militaries.

In an ongoing partnership, the U.S. along with 16 other countries participated in Exercise WA 14 in Dakar, Senegal from June 16-27.

"For the past few decades, America has partnered with African militaries in medical capacity-building events and various training engagements across a number of key skill sets," said Col. Robert Dixon, strategy and plans director, USARAF. "During part one of the exercise, ECOWAS and partnering nations received academics that took them through the UN standards for mission analysis and focused on collective tasks, functional, and staff procedures in support of Command and Control of a peacekeeping operation based on real world events. During the command post exercise (the second part of the exercise), they prepared and executed their plan to move forces into a contested area, defeat the threat, and restore basic services and the rule of law while setting the stage for national reconciliation."

The 'Accord' series is important not only to the U.S. Army, but to the AFRICOM leadership as well, noted Dixon.

"We do the exercise for the AFRICOM commander," he said. "Primarily what we're doing is training a joint force, familiarizing ourselves with the African environment, and working in Africa with our African partners.
Working with countries participating in UN or African Union peacekeeping operations in countries like Somalia, Malawi, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the Central African Republic helps with shaping exercises to replicate real-world environments that better prepares countries for the type of environment they will go into," Dixon said.

For the first time in the exercise's history, Dixon said Western Accord 14 has included non-government organizations, the civilian and police components along with the military component replicating peacekeeping operations in Africa to strengthen the relationship between the authorities and enhance regional security in West Africa.

"The Army's framework is divided into division headquarters, brigade headquarters and then a Joint Task Force is created," Dixon said. "Within the construct of the UN and African Union is a mission headquarters with three components -- a police component that includes both the regular police and Gendarmerie. Next, the civilian component trying to do peace-keeping operations is a critical aspect of the training. And finally, there's a force component which we associate with a tactical or operational level headquarters of some type."

"Often when we're out there with soldiers from these countries, we're seeing the force components. What is very advanced and different about Western Accord 14, and where the other 'Accords' are moving toward is that we added the representation of the civilian components and police components to the exercise to really shape the training exercise to replicate the actual mission set."

WA 14 was the largest exercise of its kind, and participants will continue to build upon partnerships established during this exercise with the Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and UN during future exercises. Already scheduled are Central Accord 15 (Gabon); Eastern Accord 15 (Uganda); Southern Accord 14 (Malawi); and Western Accord 15 (Niger).