NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 80 participants from the United States, African partner nations and multinational forces gathered in Nairobi Oct. 24-28 to plan exercise Justified Accord 2023 — U.S. Africa Command’s largest East Africa military training exercise.
JA23, scheduled to take place from late January to late February, is designed to build readiness for the U.S. Joint Force, increase multinational interoperability in crisis response and counterterrorism operations, and prepare regional partners for U.N. and African Union-mandated missions.
JA 23 will feature a multinational command post exercise, field training, live-fire and maritime exercises, and special operations and cyber courses. Humanitarian and civic assistance projects are also planned.
“The mid-planning event is a crucial event that refines exercise activities and support requirements while providing an opportunity for direct coordination with our U.S. and multinational partners,” said F. Austin Blessard, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) lead exercise planner for JA23. “As such, it also provides critical information relating to personnel, equipment and other logistics movements that ensure a successful exercise.”
Kenya will host activities primarily in Nairobi and Isiolo, with additional events in Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana and Djibouti. The exercise should feature approximately 800 participants from 20 partner nations.
Exercise planners took feedback from previous JA participants and integrated emerging technologies into this year’s exercise. Cyber awareness and cybersecurity and assessment will be featured.
Uganda and Kenya will host multinational cyber training in preparation for the exercise. Both defense forces will defend the network against simulated cyber attacks.
“Cyber threats have become part of everyday life, and Africa is not immune,” said Bruce Barry, Army Cyber Command exercise planner. “The more we exchange cybersecurity best practices with our African partner nations, the better we and our partners will be postured to protect both civilian and military networks that are critical to our combined security.”
Two U.S. Army National Guard units will also participate, assisting with infrastructure repair, medical triage and exercise support.
The Nebraska National Guard has partnered with Rwanda since 2019 under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. Their role in the exercise will include engineering projects and a medical exchange with a simulated casualty evacuation.
Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers will serve as the joint exercise support group, sharing an SPP relationship with Kenya dating to 2015.
“Exercise planners determined early in the process that participating units needed a central hub of logistical and personnel support,” said U.S. Army Maj. Matthew Compton, deputy chief of staff, operations, Massachusetts National Guard. “The joint exercise support group is really a collection of leaders and Soldiers from across our state who were specifically selected to support exercise Justified Accord.”
The National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements through the SPP to support defense security goals, strengthening partnerships and increasing interoperability between militaries.
“Justified Accord is the premier East Africa exercise that demonstrates the willingness and capability of partner nations to work together to improve readiness and interoperability while increasing the crisis response capability of all participating nations,” Blessard said.
SETAF-AF coordinates U.S. Army activities in Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa. U.S Army activities include military readiness exercises across the continent, hundreds of security force assistance engagements, crisis response and enduring posture support. These activities strengthen partner networks in Africa, build partner capacity against regional and global security threats, and provide strategic access for U.S. forces in contingency operations.