By Spc. Nicholas HolmesMay 4, 2016
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers with 9th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, began movement from Savannah, Georgia, to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, April 23-27 in support of exercise Western Accord 16, or WA 16.
Exercise WA 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of U.S. and African partner forces to exercise participants' capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nations mandated Peace Operations in the West African region.
It is one of four regional Accord-series exercises 2nd IBCT is scheduled to participate in this summer as the regionally-aligned brigade for U.S. Army Africa.
The magnitude of the battalion's involvement was assessed during a pre-deployment site survey, conducted in January of this year.
"We have a lot of work to do," said Maj. Sean Burnett, executive officer of 9th BEB. "The battalion has a large responsibility to the success of this exercise and we need to keep our heads in the game so we execute the mission as intended."
The battalion's responsibilities will be administrative and logistical, providing power sources and communication systems, among other resources while giving operational oversight of WA 16.
"We are making sure the exercise is capable of being conducted by providing the background areas of support such as making sure communications and electricity are ready to go, that everyone is fed, has drinking water and all of the other operational elements of the exercise," Burnett said.
"My Soldiers and I are responsible for setting up and maintaining the communication network so there is an environment available to train on communication procedures," said Cpt. David Goodell, officer in charge of network operations with 9th BEB. "We will be responsible for overseeing and mentoring the training participants."
Officers and Soldiers expressed excitement and assurance while preparing for their departure.
"I am absolutely confident in our ability to carry out this mission," Goodell said.
"I feel good about supporting the mission in Burkina Faso," said Spc. Brandon McClure, a command post node operator with Company C, 9th BEB. "We have done a lot of training within the company and I feel ready for this."
Exercise WA 16 is a key component in a broader series of military-to-military activities to demonstrate the strong partnership between U.S. Army Africa and all of the participating militaries.