Fifteen U.S. Army Africa and 23 Malawi Defense Force planners met here Dec. 5-9, 2016, to continue their collaboration in support of the upcoming African Land Forces Summit 2017 to be held in May.

ALFS is an annual, weeklong seminar bringing together land force chiefs from across Africa for candid dialog to discuss and develop cooperative solutions to regional and trans-regional challenges and threats.

"ALFS will put Malawi and the MDF on the African land forces chiefs' map, and we will make it the best ever," said Manuel Melendez, USARAF conference planner.

The initial planning event was held from Oct. 17-21 and brought military planners representing the MDF and USARAF together to discuss initial concepts of the summit and the support requirements necessary for a successful event.

"The support we have gotten form our MDF counterpart planners is tremendous, we are light years ahead of our planning timelines," said Melendez.

The main planning event brought additional planners together from both countries to take those concepts and add vital details about logistics, security, and even scheduling of major events.

A final planning event will be conducted to take these detailed plans and finalize them into plans that will be executed during the actual summit in May.

"You have done a great deal, but we are not there yet. We have moved from the crawl to walk phase. When we get to the FPE we will all be running," said Brig. Gen. Paul Phiri, MDF chief of training.

This is the first time Malawi will host the African Land Forces Summit. ALFS 2016 was hosted by the Tanzanian People's Defense Force in Arusha, Tanzania, where 37 land force chiefs attended.