SALIMA, Malawi -- Military leaders from Southern African countries and U.S. Army Africa attended a regional leader symposium Aug. 11 at the Malawi Armed Forces College in Salima, Malawi as part of Southern Accord 2016.

SA16 is a U.S. Army Africa-led annual, combined military exercise that brings together U.S. military personnel with African partner nations to improve readiness, promote interoperability, build capacity and strengthen partner relationships.

During the symposium, leaders discussed regional threats and opportunities of mutual concern, identified approaches to defeat them, and shared best practices. This is an opportunity that usually only occurs twice a year, during southern accord and the African Land Forces Summit (ALFS), according to event planner and coordinator, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Hector Montemayor.

"It's really important that we are able to get all the key leaders from the Southern region here to talk about the real issues that are on the table," said Montemayor, who is also an international division officer with U.S. Army Africa. "Then, we talk about how we're going to solve these issues as a collective group."

In addition to discussing current topics of interest, attendees also reviewed issues from the previous year's regional leader symposium held in Lusaka, Zambia and this year's ALFS in Arusha, Tanzania. This allowed the group to check on their progress as a regional partnership, as well as build on efforts for the future.

"This is my first time to participate in something like that," said Angolan Armed Forces Col. Dombel Paulo Manuel da Luz who represented his country during the event. "Exchanging information is a very important thing because with this information I think we can develop and overcome situations."