LIBREVILLE, Gabon ─ An audience of senior military leaders, multinational soldiers and guests of honor from across the world gathered for the Central Accord 2016 opening ceremony at the Gabon Air Force Base here, June 13.

An annual exercise, CA 2016 focuses on command post and field training exercises held in the region to foster partnerships, increase interoperability and build the capacity of the participating African, U.S. and European forces.

"Regional exercises are one of the best ways to test and evaluate capabilities and procedures before a real world crisis," said U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, Cynthia H. Akuetteh. "The multi-national cooperation marking Central Accord 2016 in Libreville, Gabon, gives me great confidence that we will be better prepared and better equipped to face the future together," said Ambassador Akuetteh.

The ceremony featured welcoming speeches from Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Gabonese Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Olame Ndong Ferdinand Gaspard, Secretary General of the National Ministry of Defense, Vice Adm. Gabriel Mally Hodjoua and U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, Cynthia H. Akuetteh.

As the first speaker, Brig. Gen. Olame gave an overview of the entire event calendar for CA 2016 through the tactical phases highlighting the airborne operations, education and a field training exercise.

"What will be very interesting is that we will have the 82nd Airborne Division coming from the United States and jumping straight onto the field at Pont Denis," said Brig. Gen. Olame.

Following the 82nd Airborne jump there will be a combined airborne operation between U.S., French and Gabonese paratroopers, followed by a multinational airborne wing-exchange presentation amongst the three nations.

"Another special training is the Jungle Warfare School reserved especially for the U.S. Soldiers taught by French instructors," said Brig. Gen. Olame.

In addition to live operations and tactical training, participants will be expected to complete academic preparation to enhance their knowledge in coordinating responses to crises as a part of a multinational staff.

Ambassador Akuetteh explained that the classroom sessions will address topics ranging from human rights and protecting civilians to staff training and medical support.

"This year's field training exercise will also give participants the chance to expand into practical exercises, air medevac operations, air drops and airborne operations in four separate training areas," said Ambassador Akuetteh.

The U.S. Regionally-Allocated Force, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is providing overall support for the exercise, including logistics, sustainment, training, and transportation for exercise participants.

CA 2016 aims to build partnerships and value between nations.

In addition to driving home the themes of overall readiness and interoperability, the opening ceremony was filled with messages of gratitude and well wishes towards all participants.

Brig. Gen. Olame wrapped up his welcome by expressing his desire to share Gabonese customs with his guests by inviting everyone in attendance to the scheduled cultural day and military parade.