Western Accord exercise ends in Accra

The Western Accord 2013 Command Post Exercise to help build the capacity of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Forces to enhance their capacity to support regional peace keeping operations has ended in Accra. The Western Accord is a joint regional military exercise designed to build capacities of partner countries to conduct Peace Support Operations and Post Conflict Reconstruction through the introduction of best practices. The exercise, which was organised with US Africa Command, brought about 100 military personnel from ECOWAS member states and an equal number of US military personnel together to test their skills in a simulated wartime environment. Major General Richard Opoku-Adusei, Chief of Army Staff, said the exercise has afforded personnel the effective communication, tactics and procedures to fight against terrorism. He said the two week event has seen ECOWAS participants exercising Command and Control elements in Military Decision making processes, intelligence activities, liaison duties and sustainment planning in peace support operations. He called on military personnel to be circumspect in their dealings with civilians. Brig Gen Obed Boamah Akwa, the Commandant of Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, said through the exercise, personnel have been able to sharpen their professional skills, which would serve both the present and the future. He commended the US government for their support in enhancing peace keeping operations on the continent. Major General Eric Vollemeke, Deputy Exercise Director, said the exercise provided senior leaders the opportunity to interact through seminars on planning, coordinating peace operations and preparing for integration into United Nations Missions. The Deputy Exercise Director said the exercise was also to improve the ability for ECOWAS nations to Command and Control peace operations, increase interoperability among participating forces to develop and practice skills for the US to operate in a combined and joint mission command environment with Africa. He called for cooperation between nations and organisations and individuals, indicating that “each of us has a part to play in making Africa a better place where peace and cooperation are the news headlines, rather than acts of crime, illicit trafficking, terrorism and violence.” He said ECOWAS Troop Contributing Countries and their US counterparts have also enhanced their ability to plan, deploy, employ, sustain, and redeploy in support of regional peace operations. Madam Pat Alsup, The Deputy Chief of Mission US Embassy, urged participants to adopt the lessons learnt from the exercise and integrate it into their normal training programmes. She said, in this way, “we can ensure that future generations of peacekeepers are ready to execute their mission when the need arises.” GNA