Article by Bardha Azari
Video by Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts
N’Djamena, CHAD (Feb. 16, 2015) – The yearly Flintlock exercise kicked off today in N’Djamena with an opening ceremony that brought together senior leaders from 28 participating countries.
The Chadian exercise director, Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue welcomed the guests as brothers in arms from different countries. “After several planning conferences which led to the development of a common concept of operations, the moment we have bee...n waiting for is here. There is no doubt that this exercise takes place in the context of a regional environment facing major security issues, provoked by terrorist, in particular Boko Haram.”
In light of this current context, the exercise might be considered a warm-up, enabling multinational special operations forces to share and hone new techniques in the fight against terrorism and conduct joint operations, Ngobongue said.
During the event, Special Operations Command Africa commander, Maj. Gen. James Linder, joined leadership from last year’s Flintlock exercise, hosted in Niger, and Chadian leadership in exchanging the Flintlock ceremonial flag, signifying the new host nation accepting the lead role for Flintlock ’15. The Chadian-led exercise spans across several locations within the country as well as outposts in neighboring countries.
The Chadian Armed Forces chief of the general staff, Gen. Brahim Seid Mahamat also thanked participants for creating a meticulous operational concept. He said the training event is taking place at a time when the world is facing terrorist activities on all sides, in particular Africa and the Lake Chad Basin by Boko Haram.
“We must respond to this immense security challenge, which is a major concern. You will agree that this is a difficult task, because terrorism has no face and no jurisdiction. It is a modus operandi chosen by the weakest to subvert the strongest by using the population,” Brahim said.
Approximately 1,300 personnel will be involved in Chad-hosted Flintlock ‘15, with outstations in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia. Participants are from Burkina Faso, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mali, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and the United States. The exercise runs until March 9.