HARSKAMP, Netherlands – Western Accord 2015 is officially underway as participants entered the academic phase of the exercise at Winkelman Kazerne July 25.
The annual combined-joint exercise is designed to assess U.S., European and African partner nation military organizations on their ability to conduct United Nations peacekeeping operations based on the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali known as MINUSMA.
However, it takes more than just showing up to an exercise to be successful; it requires the growth of competent leaders.
The comprehensive academics portion ranged from guest speakers from the U.N., the International Committee of the Red Cross to military leaders on the ground in Mali. Professional development is a fundamental building block of training for Western Accord.
U.S. Brig. Gen. Kenneth H. Moore Jr., deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Africa, said leadership development is key to building cohesion between multiple nations.
“The academic period of the exercise is a great opportunity for leaders at all levels to learn and share knowledge,” Moore said. “It’s also a time to build positive relationships.”
With multiple obstacles including time, money and operations tempo, the African partners have limited opportunities to conduct the in-depth professional development provided at Western Accord.
“Academics should complement and build on the capabilities the participants bring to the command post exercise,” said U.S. Army Col. Melinda Mate, director of peace operations, Peace Keeping and Stability Institute.
“For the academics portion to be successful, you have to clearly layout what the scenario is and ensure the training audience understands their roles and responsibilities, so they can go through the planning process to produce a friendly course of action that everyone understands. This will set the conditions for a successful execution of the CPX,” said Col. Barry “Chip” Daniels, commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and Western Accord chief of staff U.S. Forces.
Language barriers can hinder operations when multi-national forces work under one roof.
To bridge the language gap, U.S. Army translators from the Utah Army National Guard worked to provide scripts and materials in both English and French, the primary languages of the African nations at Western Accord.
“Having briefings and exercise documents available in both English and French precludes a barrier to comprehension of the material presented,” said Mate. “Our team of linguists is also supporting this endeavor. Most importantly, our partners’ ability to communicate in multiple languages has ensured exercise success.”
For Daniels, Western Accord 2015 is proving to be a success.
“This is my third Accord series exercise and I’m impressed with how rapidly we are progressing through the training objective. Frankly, this is the fastest I’ve seen,” Daniels said. “If they keep up this level of motivation, the academics will be a success.”
The academics portion of the exercise concluded July 25 with the CPX phase starting July 27.