The Niger Army’s 22nd Battalion trained with American, Canadian and Spanish troops supporting Flintlock 2014 on necessary learning objectives for a successful airborne supply delivery here, Feb. 21.
The Niger Armed Forces, otherwise known as the Forces Armées Nigeriennes, or FAN, are receiving instruction via “train-the-trainer” techniques to be able to teach other troops following the three-week exercise. The intent of this training is to enable the Nigerien Forces to resupply themselves, said one Canadian Joint Terminal Attack Controller. “Force projecting allows them to forward-stage in order to interdict AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] movement.”
Morning training commenced with an overview block of instruction in French on Landing Zone and Drop Zone (DZ) markings, as well as terrain feature recognition. Next, the follow-on instructor disseminated inclinometers to the troops, encouraging the students to demonstrate they understood the equipment well enough to instruct it to others, specifically in orientation and cardinal direction.
The 22nd Battalion’s Sgt. Chef Boubacan Tinga provided DZ formulas during the class, “The drop zone needs to be at least 500 meters in length,” explained Sgt. Chef Tinga. Tinga further illustrated the difference in multiplication tables for paratroopers versus bundles.
The Spanish instructors provided a block of instruction on infiltration/exfiltration techniques to include safety, security, staging and appropriate communication during day and night operations. Special Air Force Operator, 1st Lt. Alfonso <last name withheld per SOP> provided instruction on using a signal mirror during the day to reflect light and placement of vehicles at night to harness light from headlights. He also emphasized the importance of determining wind speed, strain and direction.
“Always tell the pilot where the wind is coming from,” said Alfonso. “The more powerful, the more the pilot needs the wind direction—every helo lands facing the wind.”
The troops then proceeded to set up the DZ at the point of impact with red marking panels. Then a C-130 crew air dropped a bundle on flat hard terrain—as instructed.
“This is good training for these guys,” said the Air Liaison Officer, Lt. Col Chris <last name withheld per SOP>. “They now have a new capability in their toolkit that will help them help themselves in the future.”
The Flintlock exercise is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) sponsored, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara conducted Special Operations Forces (SOF) exercise, beginning Feb. 19 and going through March 9, throughout several locations in Niger.