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UN, ECOWAS partners kick-off Western Accord 16
"It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of shared responsibility with the host nation, Burkina Faso. They have been excellent partners. Without their commitment we couldn't have done it."
An officer from the Burkina Faso army salutes as international flags march past him during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 1 of 7: An officer from the Burkina Faso army salutes as international flags march past him during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
International troops supporting U.S. Army Africa’s Western Accord 16 march with their prospective flags prior to the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 2 of 7: International troops supporting U.S. Army Africa’s Western Accord 16 march with their prospective flags prior to the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, greets an Ivory Coast servicemember during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 3 of 7: General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, greets an Ivory Coast servicemember during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
Col. Maj. Yaya Sere, Burkina Faso army lead planner for Wester Accord 16, speaks during the accord’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 4 of 7: Col. Maj. Yaya Sere, Burkina Faso army lead planner for Wester Accord 16, speaks during the accord’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
David K. Young, the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, speaks during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 5 of 7: David K. Young, the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, speaks during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, shakes hands with David K. Young (right), the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, following his speech during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 6 of 7: General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, shakes hands with David K. Young (right), the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, following his speech during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
A soldier with the Burkina Faso army places his Western Accord 16 patch on his uniform during the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
7 photos: Western Accord 16
Photo 7 of 7: A soldier with the Burkina Faso army places his Western Accord 16 patch on his uniform during the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released) Download full-resolution version
An officer from the Burkina Faso army salutes as international flags march past him during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
International troops supporting U.S. Army Africa’s Western Accord 16 march with their prospective flags prior to the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, greets an Ivory Coast servicemember during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
Col. Maj. Yaya Sere, Burkina Faso army lead planner for Wester Accord 16, speaks during the accord’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
David K. Young, the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, speaks during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
General Pingrenoma Zagre (left), Chief of Defense Staff for Burkina Faso Armed Forces, shakes hands with David K. Young (right), the First Counsellor, Senior Advisor, and Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, following his speech during the Western Accord 16 Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)
A soldier with the Burkina Faso army places his Western Accord 16 patch on his uniform during the exercise’s Opening Day Ceremony May 2, 2016 at Camp Zagre, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants’ capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated Peace Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso -- Twenty flags of U.N. partner nations and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, blew in the warm Burkina Faso wind between two formations of soldiers representing various participating militaries.

The troops reached into their sleeve pockets, removed brightly colored patches and slapped them on their uniforms signifying the official start of Western Accord 16 and completion of the opening day ceremony, May 2, at Camp Zagre in Ouagadougou.

Western Accord 16 is an annual combined, joint exercise designed to increase the ability of African partner forces and the U.S. to exercise participants' capability and capacity to conduct African Union/United Nation mandated peace operations. Lead planners from the Burkina Faso army, U.S. Army Africa and the U.S. Embassy  Ouagadougou began coordinating the exercise in December of last year.

"An exercise of this size is normally planned in eight to 12 months, however we had five months to prepare for this exercise," said Maj. Justin Sisak, USARAF lead planner for Western Accord 16. "It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of shared responsibility with the host nation, Burkina Faso. They have been excellent partners. Without their commitment we couldn't have done it."

"[The U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso] has been very supportive," Sisak continued. "They have given me all the support and additional resources that we needed to execute, given the short timeline, and made it easy."

This is the first year a Western Accord series exercise is conducted in Burkina Faso. David Young, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou said this country is the right host nation for Western Accord 16 because they are a serious partner.

"They are very eager to grow their military relationship," Young said. "So, they were very quick to volunteer, to host and to really contribute to this giant effort that's started today."

Burkinabe military leaders hope this exercise will allow their staff to become familiar with the U.N. operational process, strengthen regional and international partnerships, and prepare them to coordinate effectively across ECOWAS for future missions.

"We need our officers to be able to work together in a headquarters level and be capable with all of the know-how and knowledge that entails working together as a group," said Gen. Pingrenoma Zagre, chief of defense staff for the Burkina Faso Armed Forces.

"We're going to have a really good conference, a lot of success," Zagre added.

"We need to incorporate our officers into this organization so they have practice, learn how to operate together as a team, and also with all the various nation partners," said Col. Maj. Yaya Sere, Burkina Faso army lead planner for Western Accord 16. "If our officers can learn how to do that, that's success."

Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Western Accord 16 is the first of four accord series exercises USARAF has scheduled for this summer with support from 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, their assigned regionally aligned brigade.

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