Military officers from across Africa, North America and Europe finalized plans for Flintlock 2017, AFRICOM’s annual exercise for Special Operations Forces, to be hosted by seven African nations starting in late February.
Flintlock will bring together approximately 2,000 service members from more than 20 African, European and North American partner nations. The Flintlock exercise series is U.S. Africa Command's premier Special Operations Forces training event and will be hosted by Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
The three-week exercise is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to protect their borders and provide security for their people. Additionally, the exercise bolsters partnerships between African, European and North American Special Operations Forces increasing their ability to work together in response to future crises.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our nation’s military to strengthen our relationship with our neighbors,” said Chad Army Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue, the Flintlock exercise director. “It is also a chance for us to be involved in the community during civil military outreach events involving medical and veterinary services.” (translated from French)
As home to the exercise’s multinational headquarters, Chad will host more than 800 service members from more than 20 nations.
“This years’ exercise is the most robust and diverse we have planned,” explained U.S. Army Col. Kelly Smith, the Special Operations Command - Forward North and West Africa commander and exercise director for American forces. “African partner nations have seen the value in this type of regional approach. Combatting the spread of violent extremism and protecting the population requires the type of comprehensive, multi-national approach Flintlock is designed to foster.”
While primarily focused on military training, Flintlock will also feature several humanitarian, medical and veterinarian outreach events in local communities across Chad and other host countries. During the planning conference, U.S. and Chadian officials were able to also celebrate the completion of a small training building and an additional parking ramp for transport aircraft to support the exercise.
“This is the third time Chad has hosted the Flintlock exercise. With multiple hosts, this year will truly test our ability to coordinate across borders,” added Ngobongue. (translated from French)
Participating nations are scheduled to include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.