VICENZA, Italy -- U.S. Army Africa Acting Commanding General Brig. Gen. Eugene LeBoeuf hosted a senior leader strategy session at the Golden Lion conference center on Caserma Ederle Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

The strategy session is an annual event, held to ensure USARAF's leaders have the comprehensive information necessary to achieve long-term objectives in Africa.

This year's session focused on utilizing the reserve component for security cooperation events and exercises in Africa as a means to increase reserve operational readiness, as well as on USARAF's mission of setting the theater.

Representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, the National Guard, state partners, the reserve and directors from the USARAF staff attended the conference to share ideas and identify an operational approach that maximizes the employment of the reserve force.

"We want strong, mutually-beneficial relationships moving forward, and this conference is an important step in that process," LeBoeuf said. "USARAF wants to improve how it leverages the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve to support missions in Africa."

Providing long-term predictability to guardsmen and reservists is key since Soldiers have a limited number of days available for training and are also constrained by the time they can be away from their civilian employment. To address this issue, USARAF is studying other combatant command models to see how they source the guard and reserve and how they employ them to enhance readiness.

Using the reserve force to support USARAF activities requires a long-term planning effort that looks out to fiscal year 2020 and beyond.

The USARAF multi-year planning effort, which is designed to expand the long-term planning timeline, provides a mechanism for optimizing the use of the total force to support activities in Africa. An expanded USARAF multi-year planning effort, combined with a collaborative senior leadership seminar, is expected to lead to an improvement in how the reserve force is employed to support AFRICOM objectives.

"For the past 18 months, our USARAF planners have been leading a multi-year planning effort at the command," LeBoeuf said. "This is expanding our planning time window out five years. This planning effort, combined with the insights gained at our senior leader strategy session, should open up a more viable pathway for guard and reserve component employment in the future."