By SGT. IAN VALLEY
Exercise Justified Accord 2019 (JA19) kicked off July 15, with an opening ceremony held at the Peace Support Training Center and attended by over 100 exercise participants, as well as by members of the international media.
More than 1,000 military and government personnel from Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Somalia, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in the exercise this year.
JA19 is an annual U.S. Africa Command-directed, U.S. Army Africa-led exercise designed to enhance the capacity and capability of participating international staff and military forces in peacekeeping operations in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“This is a multinational exercise that is designed to bring the participants closer together by working on a complex problem,” said State Minister of the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense Fisseha Woldesenbet, the first speaker at the ceremony.
The theme of Woldesenbet’s speech was that Ethiopia and her allies are stronger together, and that only by working together can regional peace be obtained.
“The benefits of all our forces creating strategic partnerships allows all of us to address the challenges we face in much more effective ways than any of our partner nations could ever hope to do alone,” Woldensenbet said.
Woldesenbet was succeeded at the podium by U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, U.S. Army Africa Commanding General Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier and ENDF Maj. Gen. Yimer Ali.
The speakers focused on how JA19 would help strengthen the alliance of the 12 participating nations which would allow their peacekeeping operations in AMISOM to grow.
“Events like this exercise have a positive global impact,” Raynor said. “They support the United Nations and African Union as they carry out their mandates to bring security to the region. They also bring us closer to a common goal: a more peaceful and prosperous Africa and world.”
Another key message in the ceremony was the gratitude for the amount of participation and commitment to bring peace to the region.
“We are enormously grateful for Ethiopia’s steadfast commitment to hosting and participating in this exercise,” Raynor 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.”
Also present were the JA19 co-directors, ENDF Brig. Gen. Habtamu Tilahun, and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general, who met with local and international media outlets following the ceremony.
“There are three key objectives we would like to achieve,” Flora said. “We want to enhance our partnership, improve our interoperability, and, most importantly, improve readiness.”
The exercise will include headquarters staff training and land force maneuvers and culminate with a platoon-level demonstration. There will also be a medical readiness exercise (MEDREX), where medical military and civilian personnel from Ethiopia and the U.S. Army will collaborate and learn from each other.