From October 24-28, more than 80 participants from the U.S., Africa partner nations and multinational forces gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, to plan exercise Justified Accord 2023 — U.S. Africa Command’s largest East Africa military training exercise.
JA23, scheduled for late January to late February 2023, is designed to build readiness for the U.S. Joint Force, increase multinational interoperability in support of crisis response and counter terrorism operations, and prepare regional partners for United Nations and African Union mandated missions.
JA 23 will feature the following elements: A multinational command post exercise, a field training exercise, a live-fire exercise, a maritime exercise, and academic courses focused on special operations and cyber capabilities. Several humanitarian and civic assistance projected 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 Mr. F. Austin Blessard, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa 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, while Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana and Djibouti will provide venues for additional exercise events. Including European partners, 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. In particular, cyber awareness, as well as cyber security and assessment will be featured.
For instance, Uganda and Kenya will host multinational cyber training events in preparation for the exercise. Once the exercise begins, both defense forces will be responsible for defending the network against simulated cyber attacks.
“Cyber threats have become part of everyday life and Africa is not immune," said Mr. Bruce Barry, Army Cyber Command exercise planner.
He added, "The more we exchange cyber security 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. This ongoing cooperation is mutually beneficial and enables increased partnership between the United States, our African partners and our allies.”
Assisting with infrastructure repair, medical triage and exercise support, two U.S. Army National Guard units will also take part in the exercise scenario.
The Nebraska National Guard has been partnered with Rwanda since 2019 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Their part of JA23 features several engineering projects as well as a medical exchange culminating with a simulated casualty evacuation.
Additionally, the Massachusetts National Guard will provide Soldiers to serve as the joint exercise support group, sharing an SPP relationship with Kenya dating back 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.”
Through the SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals, thereby 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,” added Blessard.
SETAF-AF is responsible for coordinating all 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.
The final planning event is scheduled to take place the first week of December, where international partners will tackle the last remaining exercise details.