GAKO, Rwanda – U.S. Army Africa Soldiers from the early entry command post deployed to Rwanda in support of Exercise Shared Accord 2018 from August 13-29 to demonstrate the command’s ability to employ its expeditionary mission command capability. This deployment helps satisfy a U.S. Army directive requiring USARAF to maintain a certified joint task force headquarters capability.
“Any time the EECP is able to deploy forward, it’s a learning experience for us,” said Lt. Col. David O’Leary, the USARAF deputy fire support coordinator and EECP deputy chief. “Every country is different on how we are able to operate. It’s a great opportunity to work with our partners and to demonstrate to the command that we have the ability to provide an expeditionary mission command capability that, if called upon, is ready to go and help in whatever capacity that may be.”
The three-week training event provided an opportunity to exercise the communications, logistical and operational capabilities of the EECP, which are critical in response to any of several contingency operations for which U.S. Army Africa might deploy forces. To validate these capabilities, the EECP maintains the ability to quickly deploy forces into theater and establish initial presence from a forward deployed location, often in support of a lead federal agency, such as the U.S. Department of State (DOS) or the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
When the EECP is sent forward, it establishes initial communications capabilities and begins generating situational awareness on the ground. The contingency command post, established after the EECP, provides increased operational capacity and incorporates additional support, communications, and operational personnel. Like the EECP, the larger CCP provides a potential joint task force with a command post-forward to increase cooperation between unified action and other partners, including host nation and non-governmental organizations.
“When the EECP forward deploys, it establishes the initial footprint, defines the requirements forward, sets up the initial mission command, then escalates as required,” said Maj. Daniel Akey, the early entry command post senior intelligence officer. “The key is that we deploy rapidly and establish a scalable mission command capability as early as possible so USARAF can respond to forward requirements on the ground.”
This exercise builds upon lessons learned during Exercise Judicious Response, USARAF’s joint task force–capable headquarters validation exercise, in early 2018. The earlier exercise, conducted in conjunction with U.S. Africa Command, tested USARAF’s ability to form the core of a joint task force and conduct contingency operations on the African continent.
Once validated, USARAF will maintain the ability to quickly deploy a scalable command post in support of various operations, including non-combatant evacuation operations, foreign humanitarian missions and disaster relief or conflict prevention.