By Rachel Okunubi, African UnionAugust 2, 2010
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - The week of July 12, 2010, African Union Commission's Peace and Support Operations Division (PSOD) Operational Division (PSOD) participated in a familiarization program that provided strategic level, operational level, and functional training.
Fifteen high-level military and civilian personnel assigned to PSOD took part in the one week training session that covered a variety of topics pertaining to the establishment and operation of the AU's Peace and Support Operations Center (PSOC). The PSOC will be used to monitor, analyze and provide feedback during AU sponsored contingency operations or to any of the five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that has the African Stand-by Force (ASF) deployed.
The participants represented various locations throughout Africa -- Kenya, Burundi, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria, and Djibouti -- and brought along a broad range of educational and military experiences.
The session, sponsored by the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), marked the first among a series of formal and practical trainings that will be convened quarterly over the next two years. Led by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeff Kurka, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kenny McRostie, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Galan and Arthur Kelly of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the primary objective of the training is to train PSOD leadership and watch standers to effectively manage and operate the AU PSOC.
The role of the AU PSOC is to identify, analyze, report and respond to regional crises. Key lessons of the week's workshops focused on streamlining important information and establishing Commander's Critical Information Requirements (CCIRs), which enable stakeholders to take action in crisis situations. Lieutenant Colonel Kurka emphasized the importance of these skills stating, "If there is too much information going around, everyone gets lost; if there is too little, people make mistakes." In future sessions, participants will learn how to organize the free flow of information, properly staff functional areas, build consensus as well as gather, analyze and distribute data.
The program will assist the AFRICOM, CJTF-HOA and the AUC to develop strategic and operational relationships through a mentor-protAfAgAfA approach. The AU PSOD team will work with a variety of subject matter experts to establish and put into practice standard operating procedures that will meet the stated mission objectives and tasking requirements for an ordered exercise of operation.