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NEWS | June 26, 2012

Cameroon: National Guard joins 36 nations in Africa's largest communications exercise

By Army 1st Lt. Miranda Summers Lowe District of Columbia National Guard

DOUALA, Cameroon - National Guard members from two states and the District of Columbia are participating in Operation Africa Endeavor, a joint training mission sponsored by U.S. Africa Command which focuses on communications interoperability and information sharing among African Union, the U.S. and partner nations.

Two Air National Guard officers are serving as observer/controllers during the exercise portion of the two-week mission. One of their first tasks was to help develop the training scenario which is based on African Union, U.S., and U.N. response to a major earthquake in a fictitious country.

Air Force Lt. Col. Randy Coltrin, of the 217th Air Operations Group, and Lt. Col. Jeff Marks, of the 183rd Fighter Wing, have been working with teammates from Canada, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania.

"Watching the African nations work together has been a great experience. They treat each other so well," said Marks. "Through this training, spending two weeks together, we've really built camaraderie with each other."

Coltrin added that coordinating so many delegations from across the world has been a challenge, but hard work had been making the operation successful. Two planning conferences took place before the event started.

"The planning that went into this operation has been tremendous-and it paid off," said Coltrin. "We came in and hit the ground running. We were unable to go to the planning conference, but because of the hard work that went into the planning, everyone seems to understand why they're here. The scenario planning has been thorough. There's so much background."

And participation has been high among those involved in the planning and execution of the exercise.

"I'm very impressed by the level of participation I see from the African Nations. I've really enjoyed working with so many people, so many different countries," Coltrin added.

Operation Africa Endeavor is in its sixth iteration.



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