STUTTGART, Germany -- The U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Department of State recently completed a 10-day comprehensive crisis response scenario in conjunction with African partners in Ghana and Cabo Verde, April 26 – May 4. As with any joint U.S. military exercise, the goal of Epic Guardian is to promote cooperation, understanding and interoperability among participants.
The almost 900 U.S. participants and approximately 250 personnel from Ghana and Cabo Verde worked a notional exercise scenario that involved U.S. personnel reacting to a simulated threat to U.S. Embassy and military personnel, causing the training audience to exercise a crisis response. Topics included theater strategic planning, intermediate support, logistics, intelligence, and strategic communications among others.
“In the event of a crisis, we will all pull together in response—within the U.S. government and bilaterally. Epic Guardian put us to the test, and the good news is, it showed the strength of the relationships already in place and created new connections,” said U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Robert Jackson.
In addition to the actual exercise, the U.S. Embassy in Praia worked with U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Africa Command to organize an event where the archipelago’s leaders, along with local press and selected students toured a visiting U.S. military C-17 aircraft. Cabo Verde’s newly elected Prime Minister, Ulisses Correia e Silva, attended, as did Minister of Economy Jose Goncalves, Minister of External Affairs and Defense Luis Felipe and National Director of Defense Lt. Col Paulo Lopes.
During a press conference after the runway visit, U.S. Ambassador to Cabo Verde Donald Heflin thanked the Prime Minister for the country’s willingness to host the U.S. military and broaden security cooperation. Prime Minister Correia e Silva was effusive in his praise for the exercise, saying it was evidence of a deepening partnership and a strong sign to international criminals, including narco-traffickers, that Cabo Verde’s vast maritime zone would never be a refuge for illegal activities.
“The timing of Epic Guardian could not have been better: A new government had just been elected and the country has been increasingly anxious about international criminal threats,” said Ambassador Heflin. “The sight of the commander of U.S. Africa Command here to announce the exercise, combined with the press tour we provided of a visiting C-17 during the event, provided clear evidence to Cabo Verde that they have a strong friend in the U.S.”
Opportunities to strengthen the relationship and partnership between partner nations and the United States are vital to increasing the overall security of a region. The promotion of capabilities and capacity-building for all participants is crucial to long-term stability.
Ambassador Heflin added “Epic Guardian gave the Embassy team a chance to work directly with local government colleagues, from defense and maritime patrols to disaster planning and communications. It was a great opportunity for us to strengthen key relationships.”
The value of events like these lasts far beyond the actual play time, as described by U.S. Africa Command’s Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, Vice Admiral Michael T. Franken.
“Time and time again our African partners have proven their capability and skills in military and law enforcement tactics and techniques. Ghana and Cabo Verde are no different,” said Admiral Franken. “These events allow us to build and maintain solid relationships that will ensure continued success in future operations and crises.”
Epic Guardian is an annual exercise conducted by U.S. Africa Command. In varying forms, exercise Epic Guardian has been conducted approximately six times. Previous exercise locations have been held in Malawi, Cameroon, Djibouti, and the Seychelles.