STUTTGART, Germany — Flintlock 11, the latest iteration of U.S. Africa Command’s premier Special Operations Forces exercise, kicks off Feb. 21 in Thies, Senegal, and runs through March 11.
Conducted by Special Operations Command Africa, Flintlock is a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination. It’s focused on military interoperability and capacity-building for U.S., North American and European Partner Nations, and select units in Northern and Western Africa.
Flintlock 11 looks to build upon the successes and lessons learned during previous Flintlock exercises which were conducted to establish and develop regional relationships and synchronization of effort across the Trans-Sahara nation militaries.
“Flintlock represents a remarkable opportunity to seize in response to the threats posed by terrorist organizations in the region,” said Burkina Faso’s Defence Minister Yero Boly during last year’s Flintlock in Ouagadougou. “We hope this military exercise will strengthen the new wave of cooperation in the field of defense and security in the region, and that will improve the capacity and the confidence in formulating planning and preventing crisis. It’s a great opportunity for our armed forces to share experiences and knowledge with armed forces of partner nations.”
The exercise strengthens security institutions, promotes multilateral sharing of information, and develops interoperability among the partner nations of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). Flintlock also helps to achieve USAFRICOM objectives for military capacity development training and multinational regional cooperation.
“This exemplary partnership offers the armies of countries in our sub-region the opportunity to evolve alongside seasoned troops, accumulate experience in the fight against criminal organizations and increase our operational effectiveness,” said Malian Assistant Chief of Defense Col. Béguélé Sioro.
A Multi-National Tactical Operations Center will be established to serve as a focal point for multinational information sharing and the planning of synchronized operations. The tactical portion of Flintlock 11 will consist of small-unit combined training and activities involving Partner Nation counter-terrorism units. During the exercise, Medical and Veterinary Civic Action Programs will be conducted to provide the populations in rural areas health information and medical care.
A major element of this year’s Flintlock exercise is the addition of the Trans-Sahara Security Symposium (TSS), a civil-military cooperation and interagency capacity-building event coordinated in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The TSS supports the interagency objectives of the TSCTP and Operation Enduring Freedom (Trans-Sahara), the U.S. Department of Defense effort to build regional capacity, promote military interoperability and strengthen inter-regional cooperation in the Trans-Sahara region. The symposium serves as a platform for an African-taught and focused approach toward civil military operations to resolve national and trans-national challenges.
Approximately 800 personnel will be involved in Flintlock 11. This includes participants from the U.S., Canada, Spain, France, The Netherlands and Germany, as well as from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.