THIES, Senegal -- The annual Flintlock exercise kicked off Feb. 8 in Thies with an opening ceremony that brought together senior leaders and guests representing participating countries. This year more than 30 nations are attending Flintlock.
The Flintlock exercise started in 2005 across the Sahel region of Africa. Participating nations are members in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. The exercises are planned by African partner nation Special Operations Forces and Special Operations Command-Africa to develop the capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, Special Operations Command-Africa commander, joined leadership from last year's Flintlock exercise, hosted by Chad, and Senegalese leadership in exchanging the Flintlock ceremonial flag, signifying the new host nation accepting the lead role for Flintlock 16. This year's Senegalese-led exercise spans across several locations within the country as well as outposts in Mauritania.
"Flintlock is more than a military exercise, we are training together to increase our interoperability and collaboration to counter today's threats," said Bolduc. "Flintlock contributes to strengthening security ties, promoting shared values and setting conditions for economic growth."
Flintlock 2016 marks the third time the exercise has been hosted by Senegal.
The Senegalese army chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Amadou Kane, welcomed the guests as brothers-in-arms from different countries.
"This ceremony that unites us today marks the official launch of this multinational exercise," said Kane. "Flintlock 2016 will bring together more than 1,700 Soldiers from 33 countries coming from Africa, North America and Europe. Our strategic partner the United States chose us to host this event of great importance."
"We're meeting at a particularly crucial moment in the history of our continent and even more important our sub-regions," said Kane. "Now, even more than the past, the increase of terrorism is a major concern to all of our countries. This moment of apprehension and challenges is also a moment to decide a sole and unique choice for the future, react together to stand in the in the way of violent extremists."
Flintlock improves interoperability and cooperation among regional and international security forces to combat terrorism across borders. Each participating nation has a stake in the successful outcome of Flintlock 2016, which will strengthen each nation's security forces.