By Sgt. Marcus FichtlJuly 21, 2015
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (July 21, 2015) -- No uniform was the same as the one next to it as more than a dozen nations stood side by side to mark the opening of Western Accord 2015 at Harskamp, in the Netherlands, July 20.
Brig. Gen. Kenneth H. Moore Jr., deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Africa, and Dutch Brig. Gen. Gino van der Voet, director of training and operations, Royal Netherlands Army Command, welcomed African, European and American service members to a 12-day U.N.-derived command post exercise.
"This exercise will be a rigorous event that will involve nearly 200 military members and civilian participants," Moore said. "The exercise is patterned after the existing United Nations mission in Mali and designed to increase the ability of participants to execute similar missions in the future."
Based off of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, the exercise will be divided into two phases. First, an academic portion focused on the military planning, peacekeeping and current U.N. operations. Then an operational portion, where partner nations will apply the academics into a computer simulated U.N. mission.
Moore said Western Accord plays an important role in maintaining decades of U.S.-African military partnerships.
"This exercise is a key element to a broader series of military-to-military exercises that demonstrate the strong partnership between the U.S., the Netherlands, Africa and all other participating African and European partners," Moore said.
Originally planned to take place in Liberia, Western Accord was moved to the Netherlands after the Ebola outbreak in the African nation in 2014.
Voet said hosting the exercise in the Netherlands was "an easy yes."
"The Netherlands is very committed to the African continent," Voet said. "Not only do we have good relationships with our African partners, we are committed to many operations including those in Mali, Sudan and Somalia."
As staff elements will exercise together to build capabilities between the nations of Western Accord, Moore stressed there's a just as strong if not stronger reason for the exercise - the human element.
"Above all, most importantly, I want all the participants to develop long-term professional relationships," Moore said. "These relationships will last long after the exercise is concluded. It is through developing teamwork, trust and confidence in participant nations that we will overcome any obstacle."
Voet stressed the commitment has overcome the obstacles of the past and will overcome the hurdles of the future.
"We've been allies for many years and have shared many fields of battle," Voet said. "When it comes down to our mission we are all a band of brothers."