Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cameroon hosts multinational planning event for exercise Unified Focus 2017

Cameroonian Maj. Gen. Saly Mohamadou provides closing remarks during the conclusion of the Unified Focus 2017 initial planning event (IPE), Douala, Cameroon, Oct. 14, 2016.
Military planners from the U.S., Cameroon and six other African and European nations converged here Oct. 11-14 to begin the initial planning for the inaugural U.S. Army Africa-led exercise Unified Focus 2017, scheduled to take place in April.

UF17 is a tabletop exercise that brings the military partners of the Lake Chad Basin area’s Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) together to practice joint planning and coordination through a series of scripted vignettes.

This is the first Unified Focus exercise and will be hosted by the defense forces of Cameroon. The vignettes planned for the tabletop exercise focus on the counter Boko Haram operations of the MNJTF with an additional focus on regional security and stability.
“With the information that we get from this exercise and all that we learn from one another we’re going to be able to take the fight to Boko Haram,” said Cameroonian Maj. Gen. Saly Mohamadou, the commander of the 2nd Military Region and senior host for the planning event.
“You can see that the region is still in a troubling way with the terrorist threat and there are issues that we’ve seen in the news recently. But with what we are doing here we are going to be able to address those issues in the fight against Boko Haram,” said Saly.
U.S. Army Col. Michael Zinno, senior representative from USARAF, spoke to the planners about the purpose of UF17.
“As the exercise title represents, this Africa Command sponsored exercise strives to work closely between the combined forces of Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin. Our goal is to exercise our ability to coordinate operations to counter regional terrorism and violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram,” said Zinno.
Participants at the initial planning event included officers from the militaries of Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria as well as representatives from the militaries of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the U.S. The planning team reflected the multinational nature of the current MNJTF operations.
“We strive to enhance information sharing, improve coordination, and strengthen the ability of our partner nations to command and control their forces. These enhancements will improve the security situation while military and police forces operate under civil authority and respect for the law,” said Zinno.

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