Participants from 29 countries kicked off the command post and field training portion of Exercise Flintlock 2023 with opening ceremonies at four sites across Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on March 7, 2023.
“Partnership is at the very center of every exercise, meeting and speech that happens as part of Operation Flintlock,” said British High Commissioner to Ghana, Non-Resident Ambassador to Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo, Harriet Thompson. “As nations, we will work together to share expertise, knowledge and best practice to strengthen peace and security across the Sahel and Coastal West Africa because we know that a safer, more secure continent mean a safer, more secure and ultimately prosperous world.”
Prior to opening ceremonies, Joint Multinational Headquarters participants completed a host of academic courses provided by Joint Special Operations University to prepare for Flintlock’s comprehensive counter-terrorism scenario involving military and law enforcement actions, intelligence gathering and information operations at various outstations.
Additionally, more than 1,300 participants located in the Ghanaian cities of Daboya, Tamale and Volta, as well as at the exercise’s outstation in Cote d'Ivoire, took part in academic courses on the Rule of Law and honed tactical skillsets with Tactical Combat Casualty Care, close-quarters battle and range qualifications.
“The global threat to terrorism is real, and we need to be ready now because special operations are not created during emergencies,” said Ghana Armed Forces Col. Richard Mensah, Commander, JMHQ for Flintlock 2023. “We can’t always use kinetic means to defeat terrorist activities, but we can involve other non-security sectors to win the hearts and minds of the local population to fight security challenges within the region.” Exercise Flintlock 2023 builds upon the command post and field training events from previous iterations with the purpose of improving joint and combined capabilities across all domains.
“Through close coordination and planning with all of our partners, we have grown this exercise from more than just tactical training event,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert Zyla, Special Operations Command Africa, Deputy Commander. “This year, we have expanded our headquarters staff allowing participants the opportunity to increase communication with each other, strengthen our ability to share information, and foster a collaborative environment to address regional security concerns. With the establishment of this headquarters, our mentors from around the world have worked alongside SOCAFRICA and USAFRICOM teammates to incorporate and expand our legal and engagement operations.”
While mentorship dialogue at the JMHQ in Accra, Ghana will focus on military and law enforcement activities, tactical training at the outstations will focus on land and maritime operations.
“These outstations provide unique training to include urban, expeditionary, and a first for Flintlock – maritime,” said Zyla. “We are thankful to our Ghanaian and Ivorian partners for allowing us to utilize these sites for critical training that fulfills the requirements of our partners.”
U.S. Africa Command sponsored exercises bolster partnerships between African and international military and law enforcement organizations, increasing interoperability during crises and operations to increase security and stability in the region.