By Elias Gebreselassie
ADDIS ABABA: July 15 (Ethiopian Informer) — The United States and 14 other nations on Monday started a month-long military training exercise in Ethiopia, one of the largest military exercises to happen in the African continent in recent years.
The military exercise dubbed “Justified Accord” – involving 1,100 military and government personnel from the US, Ethiopia, Burundi, Brazil, Canada, Djibouti, France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda and the United Kingdom – was formally kicked off in Addis Ababa on Monday.
Fisseha Woldesenbet, Ethiopia Deputy Minister of Defense, said during the opening ceremony that the multinational military exercise is designed to bring the participants close together by testing their abilities to work as a team on complex security problems that exists in the Horn of Africa region.
“The ability of all of our forces to work together and build a common understanding of our operating procedures is a strategic issue for the participants as we all have a stake in continuing to improve stability in the region,” Fisseha said.
“The Horn of Africa region is home to well over 260 million people and has a combined GDP of 300 billion U.S. dollars,” Fisseha said, adding “It’s also the crossroads that connects Africa to Europe, Middle East and Asia. This alone makes security in our region one of global strategic importance.”
The deputy defense minister also said Horn of Africa nations face a myriad of threats individually as well as collectively including transnational terrorism, humanitarian crises, internal ethnic and clan disputes and refugee crises, major reasons to build defense capabilities.
Yimer Ali, a representative from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), also revealed that the military exercise will cover instructions on a wide range of scenarios including how to handle Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) awareness to legal frameworks for peacekeeping and the East Africa Standby Force (EASF) military planning process.
“The military exercise will sharpen staff officers’ skills working in multinational headquarters, necessary to undertake current operations and plan for a future mission,” said Yimer.
Michael Raynor, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, also said that the Justified Accord military exercise is a showcase on the importance given for regional collaboration and Ethiopia’s essential role in regional security made it host to the military exercise.
“Ethiopia is world’s largest contributor to global peacekeeping forces, an essential partner in security cooperation efforts in the Horn of Africa, and beyond,” the U.S. Ambassador said.
“Ethiopia’s commitment to promoting peace is a testament to its dedication to the principle that professional, responsible, and constructive peacekeeping and military activities can lead to a more stable, prosperous, and politically inclusive region. This makes Ethiopia a very fitting host for “Justified Accord” military exercise,” said Raynor.
“For more than 20 years, the “Justified Accord” military exercise has brought together East African nations, the US, partner nations and international organizations to strengthen relationships, increase military and inter-governmental capacity and enhance peacekeeping capabilities,” he added.
The U.S. Ambassador also stressed that the exercise has “significantly expanded in scope this year, with a medical readiness component.”
Lapthe Flora, U.S. military Co-Director of the Exercise Justified Accord, also noted that the exercises envisaged to strengthen partnership and improve interoperability and readiness of troops before battlefield.
He also noted that the U.S. military is further expanding its partnership with African nations militaries with a military exercise named “Shared Accord” planned to be held in Rwanda next month.
“The Shared Accord” military exercises will focus on countries involved in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeeping operation.