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Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference Concludes in Bamako
U.S. Africa Command concluded the main planning conference for Africa Endeavor 2011 in Bamako, Mali January 27, 2011 after four days of deliberation and exercise planning sessions. <br /> <br />Africa Endeavor is an annual multinational
BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Lieutenant Colonel David Schilling, chief of the U.S. Africa Endeavor 11 delegation, discusses exercise objectives with the heads of the other delegations during the AE main planning conference's first executive management board meeting January 24, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 5: BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Lieutenant Colonel David Schilling, chief of the U.S. Africa Endeavor 11 delegation, discusses exercise objectives with the heads of the other delegations during the AE main planning conference's first executive management board meeting January 24, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff) Download full-resolution version
BAMAKO, Mali - Participants in the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference  listen to an exercise overview 24 January, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 5: BAMAKO, Mali - Participants in the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference listen to an exercise overview 24 January, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff) Download full-resolution version
BAMAKO, Mali - Mauritanian Major Mahfoud Ould Bobaly (right) and Captain Ahmed Ould El Bekaye enjoy the Mali overview during the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference January 24, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 5: BAMAKO, Mali - Mauritanian Major Mahfoud Ould Bobaly (right) and Captain Ahmed Ould El Bekaye enjoy the Mali overview during the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference January 24, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff) Download full-resolution version
BAMAKO, Mali - Gabonese Major Franck Igamba Ivendengani (right) greets Djiboutian Lieutenant Said Abdillahi Houssein at the beginning of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command&#39;s primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 4 of 5: BAMAKO, Mali - Gabonese Major Franck Igamba Ivendengani (right) greets Djiboutian Lieutenant Said Abdillahi Houssein at the beginning of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff) Download full-resolution version
BAMAKO, Mali - Major General Gabriel Poudiougou, chief of Staff of the Malian armed forces, addresses the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011.  "The goal of AFRICA ENDEAVOR is to improve the communications, command, control and information capabilities of African militaries so as to strengthen African standby forces," he said in his remarks. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 5 of 5: BAMAKO, Mali - Major General Gabriel Poudiougou, chief of Staff of the Malian armed forces, addresses the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011. "The goal of AFRICA ENDEAVOR is to improve the communications, command, control and information capabilities of African militaries so as to strengthen African standby forces," he said in his remarks. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff) Download full-resolution version
BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Lieutenant Colonel David Schilling, chief of the U.S. Africa Endeavor 11 delegation, discusses exercise objectives with the heads of the other delegations during the AE main planning conference's first executive management board meeting January 24, 2011. The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
BAMAKO, Mali - Participants in the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference  listen to an exercise overview 24 January, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
BAMAKO, Mali - Mauritanian Major Mahfoud Ould Bobaly (right) and Captain Ahmed Ould El Bekaye enjoy the Mali overview during the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor Main Planning Conference January 24, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command's primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
BAMAKO, Mali - Gabonese Major Franck Igamba Ivendengani (right) greets Djiboutian Lieutenant Said Abdillahi Houssein at the beginning of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011.  The conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan U.S. Africa Command&#39;s primary communications interoperability exercise.  (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
BAMAKO, Mali - Major General Gabriel Poudiougou, chief of Staff of the Malian armed forces, addresses the opening ceremony of the Africa Endeavor main planning conference January 24, 2011.  "The goal of AFRICA ENDEAVOR is to improve the communications, command, control and information capabilities of African militaries so as to strengthen African standby forces," he said in his remarks. (Photo by Susannah Dowell, AE11 staff)
U.S. Africa Command concluded the main planning conference for Africa Endeavor 2011 in Bamako, Mali January 27, 2011 after four days of deliberation and exercise planning sessions.

Africa Endeavor is an annual multinational communications exercise that focuses on interoperability and information sharing among participating nations.

"The goal of Africa Endeavor is to improve the communications, command, control and information capabilities of African militaries so as to strengthen African standby forces," said Major General Gabriel Poudiougou, Chief of Staff of the Malian armed forces during the opening ceremony.

"In short, a country's security is reinforced by open communications with its neighbors," said Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Mali during the opening ceremony. "The Africa Endeavor exercise aims to improve communication and to strengthen relationships among countries in the region and across the continent in order to improve everyone's security."

To this end, this planning conference brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations and observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan interoperability testing of communications and information systems of participating nations.

"This conference had the largest number of participating countries to date in the Africa Endeavor series," said Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, head of U.S. Africa Command's Command, Control, Communications and Computers Systems Directorate during the closing ceremony. "This is a significant indicator that the word is getting out on the great work [done] during Africa Endeavor."

But true interoperability is more than just compatible communications systems; it's also developing a cadre of professionals who know how to communicate with each other.

"The best part of these events is the opportunity to interact with people from dozens of different countries," said Malian Army Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Traore, Malian liaison for the exercise. "I'm from western Africa but now I have family in the east and in the south and in the center. These people who I have met and have learned to know through Africa Endeavor have become members of my extended family."

The weeklong event included the review of exercise goals and objectives, the development of exercise scenarios, deliberations to determine the roles of the different countries in the exercise, the regional network architecture and a list of required equipment, a visit to the exercise site and initial discussions to determine the site of next year's exercise.

"We have made significant progress on standardizing communications tactics, techniques and procedures that will be tested and refined during the final planning conference and executed during the main exercise," said General Ferrell.
The final planning conference will be held in The Gambia in April, and the AE11 participants will return to Bamako in June for the main exercise.

"The impact of improved cooperation and coordination is evident far beyond military engagements," said Ambassador Milovanovic. "When a natural disaster strikes, for example, affected populations benefit from our cooperation and fewer citizens might perish or be injured as a result. Disasters and do not stop and national borders. Our communications efforts must therefore follow the same model if we are to be effective."
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