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Planning Starts in Kenya for 24-Nation Communications Exercise
Communications experts from 24 nations have gathered in Nairobi December 4-6 to begin initial planning for Africa Endeavor 2008 (AE '08), a collaborative information sharing and military communications interoperability exercise. AE '08 is
Communications experts from 24 nations have gathered in Nairobi December 4-6 to begin initial planning for Africa Endeavor 2008 (AE '08), a collaborative information sharing and military communications interoperability exercise. AE '08 is scheduled to take place July 2008 in Nigeria.

"Partnership between civilian and military organizations are critical to the success of conducting peace support, fighting terrorism and advancing democracy on the continent of Africa," Michael Rannenberger, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, told the communicators.

"Only you as communicators recognize the limits of infrastructure in your countries, the lack of capacity and resources as well as the diversity of technology you have within your nations," Rannenberger said.

The conference is being hosted by the Kenya Ministry of Defense. Major General Joseph Kasano, commander, Eastern Region, Kenya Armed Forces, noted that partnership between government and civilian organizations will help ensure peace, political and economic stability through Africa.

"Your work will further the Command Control Communications Information Systems (C3IS) for the African Union and its standby force," the general said. "Your goals to help develop communications standards and promote collaborative information sharing can help to ensure collective security across our continent. Just remember the longest journey starts with the first step."

Several African nations including Botswana, Djibouti, Niger, and Zambia, are joined by Austria, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland in planning testing requirements for local-area networks, wide-area networks (LAN/WAN) and Single Channel Radio (SCR) for next year's workshops.

Also in attendance are representatives from the African Union and ECOWAS. The exercise, sponsored by U.S. European Command (EUCOM), is also supported by U.S. Marine Forces Europe (MARFOREUR), U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR), U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and Joint Interoperability Test Command. The U.S. Embassy in Kenya also assisted in the planning of the conference.

Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Warthon, U.S. exercise director, outlined several key objectives for the military communicators during the week-long conference in Nairobi. He called for the delegations to establish technical objectives and focus for the 2008 workshop, to refine national, regional and continental African Union Command, Control and Communications Information Systems (C3IS) architecture and to draft the testing procedures and plans for FY-08. He also urged long-range planned.

"Even more importantly, we must initiate strategic planning through 2011," Warthon told the communicators.

AE '08 military communicators say they can point to several real-world missions and successes since the African Endeavor exercises began in 2006. Botswana, Gabon, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, The Gambia and Uganda participated in the 2006 United Nations Mission in Sudan while Ghana and Guinea were involved in the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara.

Collaboration is one of the key objectives of the military information-sharing, and an interoperability workshop is expected to draw together more than 35 nations in the summer of 2008.

"Over the next few months, you must harness the potentials this workshop holds for the African continent," Warthon said. "You must leverage the assets each of your militaries posses and continue to gain insight in as we work toward an integrated continental-wide collaborative architecture network."

The African Union and Africa Endeavor communicators are mutually committed to the success of the Africa Endeavor program. The AU has established seven working groups to address a wide range of issues including doctrine, legal, medical, education and the evaluation of standard operating procedures. Furthermore, the African Union is in the final stages of validating the C3IS standards that have been developed by Africa Endeavor leadership.

The communicators meeting in Kenya spent three days defining requirements and working with the Joint Interoperability Test Command to design tests for the July workshop. In addition, planners have begun to design the test site and discuss logistics ranging from power, cable and infrastructure.

Two future workshops will be hosted by Cameroon and Morocco in February and April 2008.

As the military communicators began their work, Warthon reminded them that each person is a critical "building block" to constructive information sharing and to create the "art of bold vision" to harness vast amounts of solution sets.