Flintlock 2019 exercise: US Special Forces coaching African armies


At the Zagreb military camp in Burkina Faso, US Special Operations forces are sharpening over 20 African armies in the art of countering extremist organizations. Despite the armies coming from so many diverse countries, they show off cooperation in small unit tactics and intelligence sharing.


Flintlock 2019 exercise US Special Forces coach African armies
Hosted this year by Burkina Faso, Flintlock 2019 brings together troops from the G5 Sahel - Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad - as well as other African countries (Picture source: U.S. Army/DVIDS)


Flintlock is a US-supported military exercise held and led by an African nation every year since 2005. Hosted this year by Burkina Faso, it's designed to build the capacity of key US allies in Africa. Flintlock 2019 brings together troops from the G5 Sahel - Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad - as well as other African countries.

The Commander of US Special Operations in Africa, Maj. Gen. Mark Hicks, says his goal is to build a strong army on the continent that is fully equipped to deal with the threat: "When this exercise is over, we have established relationships, intractability training and we have left behind real capability for security forces to be confident and their ability to deal with the security problems they face" .

The US recently reduced combat operations in Africa following an attack in Niger in which four US forces were killed. Maj. Gen. Hicks says the US army, however, will continue to advise and train their African allies: "We are advising at a battalion level and above, and trying to mentor larger groups to conduct larger security operations. That made us all effective and distanced us a bit from direct combat actions."

The US government has about 7,200 personnel in Africa. Of this number, 1,300 Special Forces operate roughly in a dozen countries on the continent.


 

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