African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger

16.	Niger’s Minister of Defense M. Karidio Mahamadou shakes hands with Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder at the start of the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014 in Niamey, Niger.  (Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo) African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger 16. Niger’s Minister of Defense M. Karidio Mahamadou shakes hands with Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder at the start of the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014 in Niamey, Niger. (Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo)
Nigerien leadership walks across the runway during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014, welcoming participants to the three-week annual exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo) African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger Nigerien leadership walks across the runway during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014, welcoming participants to the three-week annual exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo)
More than 1,000 troops from 18 countries who are participating in Flintlock 2014 salute during the playing of the Nigerien national anthem. Minister of Defense M. Karidio Mahamadou stands before the color guard, surrounded by soldiers, and renders honors to his country’s flag. African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger More than 1,000 troops from 18 countries who are participating in Flintlock 2014 salute during the playing of the Nigerien national anthem. Minister of Defense M. Karidio Mahamadou stands before the color guard, surrounded by soldiers, and renders honors to his country’s flag.
1.	A Niger color guard posts their nation’s flag just before the start of the Flintlock 2014 opening ceremony at the Base 101 flightline in Niamey, Niger, Feb. 19. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined Nigerian Gen. Seyni Garba in welcoming the 18 different countries for the annual event. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo) African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger 1. A Niger color guard posts their nation’s flag just before the start of the Flintlock 2014 opening ceremony at the Base 101 flightline in Niamey, Niger, Feb. 19. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined Nigerian Gen. Seyni Garba in welcoming the 18 different countries for the annual event. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo)
10.	Troops from 18 different countries stand in formation during the Flintlock 2014 opening ceremony Feb. 19. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined Nigerien Gen. Seyni Garba in welcoming participants to the annual event. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo) African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger 10. Troops from 18 different countries stand in formation during the Flintlock 2014 opening ceremony Feb. 19. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined Nigerien Gen. Seyni Garba in welcoming participants to the annual event. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo)
Nigerien leadership walks across the runway during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014, welcoming participants to the three-week annual exercise.  (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger Nigerien leadership walks across the runway during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2014, welcoming participants to the three-week annual exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Inigo

Flintlock 2014, the annual African-led military exercise for interoperability in security, counterterrorism and humanitarian aid, officially kicked off Wednesday with an opening ceremony celebrating the spirit of regional security cooperation.

The exercise, --which includes Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, France, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, United Kingdom, the United States and the host nation of Niger -- focuses on building partner capability to strengthen stability across the Sahel region of Africa. Flintlock exercises have been conducted across north and western Africa since 2005.


For the next three weeks, more than a 1,000 different troops will practice military drills such as airdrops of personnel or equipment, conduct weapons ranges, rehearse small unit tactics and deliver aid to remote areas with limited medical care.

While not focused on any particular operation or security situation, Flintlock 2014 focuses on the development of the mutual security capacity while strengthening bonds among exercise participants, according to officials.

“Your presence reflects your interests in our regional partnerships,” said Nigerien Col. Mahamane Laminou, the Flintlock country coordinator. “By sharing their experiences, expertise, and camaraderie, we share our interests in promoting stability in the region.”

Some of the major tactical components of Flintlock 2014 include small-unit combined counter-terrorism training, along with humanitarian relief operations providing basic medical, dental, and veterinary access for select communities in Niger.

The host nation led the development of the exercises’ training objectives to help build interoperability among participating nations.

U.S. leadership attending the ceremony with their counterparts said they agree that security is necessary for growth and stability. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined African nation partners for opening ceremony activities.

During the ceremony, the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Trans Sahel Commander Col. Kenneth Sipperly, said, “Although Flintlock is considered an exercise, it is really an extension of ongoing training, engagement, and operations that help prepare our close Africa partners in the fight against extremism and the enemies that threaten peace, stability, and regional security.”

“Working together to guard against the effects of extremism will be realized by the future generations of all our countries.”

The Nigerien Chief of Staff agreed, adding that, “This exercise is occurring at a time when our nations are faced with multiple obstacles within our region which requires strong resolve to confront extremism.”

 

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