Contact Us Press Releases
Flintlock 2017 builds trust in Niger
FAN trains with U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group Airborne
A Nigerien soldier provides rear security for his squad while they performed a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock exercises strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among partner nations in the Trans-Sahara. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 1 of 10: A Nigerien soldier provides rear security for his squad while they performed a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock exercises strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among partner nations in the Trans-Sahara. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
Nigerien armed forces service members observe as the Belgian Special Operations Forces prepare for a capabilities demonstration during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 2 of 10: Nigerien armed forces service members observe as the Belgian Special Operations Forces prepare for a capabilities demonstration during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers observe as Nigerien armed forces service members fire their weapons with the assistance of illumination rounds during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock
Photo 3 of 10: U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers observe as Nigerien armed forces service members fire their weapons with the assistance of illumination rounds during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
Belgian Special Operations Forces demonstrate their vehicle capabilities during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 4 of 10: Belgian Special Operations Forces demonstrate their vehicle capabilities during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
Nigerien army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by  Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 5 of 10: Nigerien army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released) Download full-resolution version
Nigerien soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 6 of 10: Nigerien soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released) Download full-resolution version
Nigerien soldiers prepare their magazines for a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 7 of 10: Nigerien soldiers prepare their magazines for a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 8 of 10: A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant speaks to a group of Nigerien soldiers prior to the start of a buddy team movement class during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock 2017 is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to protect their borders and provide security for their people. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)
10 photos: United States Africa Command Image
Photo 9 of 10: A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant speaks to a group of Nigerien soldiers prior to the start of a buddy team movement class during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock 2017 is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to protect their borders and provide security for their people. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros) Download full-resolution version
A Belgian Special Operations Forces service member shows a Nigerien soldier his sector of fire while reacting to contact on a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
10 photos: Flintlock 2017
Photo 10 of 10: A Belgian Special Operations Forces service member shows a Nigerien soldier his sector of fire while reacting to contact on a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released) Download full-resolution version
A Nigerien soldier provides rear security for his squad while they performed a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock exercises strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among partner nations in the Trans-Sahara. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
Nigerien armed forces service members observe as the Belgian Special Operations Forces prepare for a capabilities demonstration during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers observe as Nigerien armed forces service members fire their weapons with the assistance of illumination rounds during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
Belgian Special Operations Forces demonstrate their vehicle capabilities during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
Nigerien army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by  Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released)
Nigerien soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned at Flintlock enable warriors in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria/Released)
Nigerien soldiers prepare their magazines for a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock brings together forces who share the common goal of peace and stability in North and West Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant speaks to a group of Nigerien soldiers prior to the start of a buddy team movement class during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock 2017 is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to protect their borders and provide security for their people. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)
A Belgian Special Operations Forces service member shows a Nigerien soldier his sector of fire while reacting to contact on a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces which increases their ability to work together in response to crises. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros/Released)

DIFFA, Niger— For two and a half weeks, Forces Armees Nigerinnes soldiers trained with Australian, Belgium, Canadian and U.S. Special Operations Forces as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017, which commenced on Feb. 27 and concluded March 15. The training started with individual soldiering techniques such as marksmanship, first aid, land navigation, counter-explosives training and eventually progressed into advanced platoon-level maneuvers.

These skills will be critical in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations. When called to fight, the lessons learned at Flintlock 2017 will undoubtedly increase the combat effectiveness and survivability of the Forces Armees Nigerinnes, also known as the FAN. One thing stands out – the FAN is a willing force and every soldier takes the training seriously.

U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), or 3SFG (A), has historically been aligned to the African continent. During the Global War on Terror, 3SFG (A) was realigned to Afghanistan. The group’s area of operations shifted back to Africa where Green Berets are sharing valuable lessons learned with their partners.

“One of the biggest differences between the Afghan National Army and the FAN is that they have clear lines they draw between who they want to defend and who they identify themselves as - it’s a complete contrast from Afghanistan,” said a U.S. Special Forces medical sergeant with 3SFG (A).  “They’re motivated because they have leadership that sets good examples and they know they can succeed in an organization that gives them a better option than what they might have had.”

FAN soldiers come from across Niger. Niger has many tribal groups and some soldiers know French and some speak other languages like Hausa. By training as a unit these soldiers bonded and found common ground with each other.

“In my previous experiences training the [Afghan National Army], I’ve noticed that the FAN values your time. They show up willing and ready to train,” said a U.S. Special Forces weapons sergeant.

Officers and noncommissioned officers in the FAN play an active role during the training by pulling soldiers aside to work with them when their platoon is learning a new skill. When a FAN soldier makes a mistake, leaders professionally tell the soldier what they did wrong and show them the right way to do things.

“We gave the FAN fundamentals and concepts of implementing different types of techniques and tactic,” said a U.S. Special Forces medical sergeant. “The fact that they absorbed a good amount of the training is because they are so motivated and they have a defined enemy.

“Ultimately, it’s about trusting the soldiers to your left and right. The first day of training they seemed skeptical about each other. After training together, they built a common ground between them and they have great working relationships,” said same U.S. Special Forces medical sergeant.

From the FAN cooks to the gate guards, every soldier knows their purpose and executes their individual tasks with pride. You will never catch a FAN soldier sleeping on guard or a mechanic quitting before a vehicle is fixed.

“The officers and noncommissioned officers take pride in their work,” said a U.S. Special Forces communications sergeant. “They train their men on their own without us having to get on them. Whereas, in Afghanistan you have to tell the leaders what to do. They [FAN] do their jobs to the best of their ability because of the looming Boko Haram threat in the area.”

PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS