MOAMBA, Mozambique --
“Excellencies, allow me to present the closing ceremony of Exercise Shared Accord 2010, and thank you for your presence.”
With these words, Maj. Gen. Graça Tomás Chongo, commander of the Armed Forces for the Defense of Mozambique (FADM) Army, began the ending ceremony of the first large-scale bi-lateral exercise between the Republic of Mozambique and the U.S., Aug. 13. Shared Accord 2010 saw a task force of more than 700 service members set up temporary quarters in Moamba and Boane, Mozambique, for the duration of a 10-day exercise. The team, comprised largely of reserve Marines with the 25th Marine Regiment, worked with the FADM to help prepare them for their new role as a regional peacekeeping force.
Chongo’s speech focused on the many successes achieved during the exercise. From peacekeeping missions to humanitarian assistance, Chongo commended the soldiers and Marines’ ability to maximize and exchange knowledge and experiences while maintaining a positive spirit.
Leslie Rowe, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, echoed Chongo’s themes.
“This exercise was the next logical step in a solid, long-term, multi-faceted partnership between the U.S. and Mozambican militaries,” said Rowe, in Portuguese. “The success of these activities makes us hopeful about our future as partners in promoting regional security. Today’s ceremony is significant because we recognize that global security requires global cooperation. Before us we see evidence that when we work together, our partnership can bring very concrete benefits to individuals, communities and nations.”
Rowe stressed that the hundreds of members of from the two separate armed forces did more than simply share some experiences.
“They also jointly provided free medical care to communities nearby, rehabilitated two schools, and reached out in other ways to support and benefit the communities,” said Rowe. “(These activities) may end up being among the most-remembered aspects of this exercise. I would also like to congratulate the leaders and citizens of Moamba, Boane, Tenga, and Sabie, and the non-governmental organizations that were part of this great team that provided such important services to these communities.”
Individual members of the task force overwhelmingly agreed with the ambassador’s notions.
“I was involved in the MEDCAP (Medical Civic Assistance Program) in Tenga, and it was a wonderful yet very humbling experience,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Gilbert, a Corpsman with Headquarters Company, 25th Marine Regiment. “I was moved by how grateful the Mozambicans were for our help and presence. The time flew by during the MEDCAP, and we had lots of fun helping the people there. We got some of the children to take their medication by sharing the apple sauce and granola bars from our Meals Ready to Eat.”
Gilbert’s experience made him appreciative for everything he has back in the U.S., he said, and the appreciative sentiment was felt by many members of the exercise, according to U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. James T. Adams, battalion sergeant major of 2nd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment.
“It’s been an uplifting experience,” said Adams. “The Mozambicans have truly opened their doors to us and shared their world and culture. We had many opportunities to interact and I was impressed with their dedication and motivation. Interaction during the Marine Combat Fitness Test, the rifle range down at Boane, the soccer game, these were all bonding experiences that the Marines and Mozambicans will not forget.”
There are numerous long-term benefits of events like SA10, according to Adams. He stressed that the established partnership has enhanced cohesion between the U.S. and Mozambique, and the long term goals for the region and world.
“(The United States) stands with Mozambique to show our support for the goals of the Mozambican government to utilize your new skills and equipment to play an enhanced role in southern Africa,” said Rowe. “The completion of this exercise is evidence of our commitment to further equip, train, and partner with the Armed Forces of Mozambique, so that it can accomplish its important mission.”
SHARED ACCORD activities included staff training, small unit tactical training, and humanitarian civic-assistance programs to include medical services, dental services, and engineering projects. A task force of more than 700 U.S. service members worked closely with the FADM for the duration of the 10-day exercise.
Shared Accord is designed to build U.S. Africa Command partner nation capacity for peace and stability operations. Previously, SA has taken place in locations such as Benin, Ghana, and Senegal. The exercise is coordinated by U.S. Marine Forces Africa, the Marine component of U.S. Africa Command. All troops will return to their home bases in Europe and the U.S. at the end of the exercise.