NAIROBI, Kenya – The final planning event for exercise Justified Accord 24, hosted by the Kenyan Defence Forces in Nairobi, Kenya, took place here Jan. 22–26, 2024.
Justified Accord is the largest combined, joint military exercise in East Africa. Led by U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), the exercise will take place from Feb. 26 to Mar. 7, 2024. Approximately 50 participants from multiple countries attended the final planning event, the culmination of months of multinational planning efforts.
Set against the backdrop of Nairobi's Humanitarian Peace Support School and the newly constructed Counter Insurgency Terrorism and Stability Operations training area in Nanyuki, Justified Accord 24 will include approximately 1,000 participants from more than 20 nations.
“The final planning event for Justified Accord holds paramount importance in ensuring the seamless execution of the exercise,” said KDF Lt. Col. Kelly Opiyo, exercise planner, Kenya Defense Headquarters. “It serves as the culmination of extensive collaboration and the final synchronization of planning efforts.”
British, Dutch, Italian, American and Kenyan planners came together after almost a year’s worth of mostly remote engagements to finalize the details of multinational field training and live-fire events scheduled to take place at CITSO.
“Working with our multinational counterparts has been an enriching and highly collaborative experience,” said Opiyo. “The expertise, professionalism, and commitment demonstrated by the planning teams have significantly contributed to the success of the planning efforts.”
Opiyo shared that this year's exercise holds great anticipation. The incorporation of diverse scenarios and challenges provides a realistic and comprehensive training environment. He discussed how the participation of multiple nations, each bringing unique capabilities and perspectives, is expected to enhance the overall learning experience.
Eldridge Browne, chief of exercises, SETAF-AF, agreed.
“The final planning event for exercise Justified Accord 24 has been a huge success," Browne shared. "The exercise is combined and joint focused on regional security in East Africa, with the planning activities centered on working out all the details of how we execute the exercise and work together to share best practices."
While ground troops conduct maneuvers at CITSO geared towards increasing interoperability among multiple African units, combining with U.K. and U.S. forces, HPSS in Nairobi will focus on practical application within a classroom setting.
Nairobi-based activities include a Women, Peace and Security panel, a Rule of Law workshop, a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course and a K-9 tactical combat casualty care exchange.
U.S. Army Capt. Linda Atiase, an operational law attorney assigned to the SETAF-AF Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, shared her excitement regarding the Rule of Law workshop.
“Rule of law is a key principle for operational effectiveness,” Atiase said. “A society rooted in rule of law is more likely to have strong institutions which uphold justice and fairness, fostering a sense of trust in those institutions.”
While planning the workshop, she drew attention to the recent increase in coups that took place in African countries, as well as the discussions that followed.
Atiase said, “It is worth examining the link between coups, the rule of law and its impact.”
This is the first time the workshop will be held at Justified Accord. It will touch on topics such as international humanitarian law, legal basis for use of force, civilian harm and mitigation.
“The goal is to equip Army legal advisors with tools to promote the rule of law and properly advise commanders to conduct operations according to applicable legal frameworks,” added Atiase.
HPPS-based participants will also come together in a defensive cyber course and command post exercise. This event includes a simulated disaster scenario designed to hone response strategies, while encouraging multinational collaboration to solve increasingly difficult problems.
As participants react and work to come up with solutions, exercise planners continue to inject new challenges, all while grading and providing constructive feedback.
“It’s interesting when you consider how to bring together 20+ nations in Kenya,” said Browne.
Browne also said that Justified Accord will join forces with maritime exercise Cutlass Express in Mombasa, the first time these two exercises have been linked.
Cutlass Express is conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa and is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement techniques, promote safety and security in the Western Indian Ocean, and increase interoperability between participating nations.
Considering the CPX scenario above, the maneuver exercises in CITSO, and the linkage to exercise Cutlass Express, planners deemed the best way to drive readiness and bring everyone together is to provide a common, difficult and demanding challenge.
"The Kenyan Defence Forces have been exceptional hosts for this planning event, and we are excited to conduct the exercise here in Kenya," Browne concluded.
SETAF-AF provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa a dedicated headquarters to synchronize Army activities in Africa and scalable crisis-response options in Africa and Europe.