By Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria, 3rd Special Forces GroupMarch 1, 2017
Exercise Flintlock 2017 kicked off in Diffa, Niger Feb. 27, 2017. This is the second time Niger has hosted Flintlock since 2005. Niger is one of seven host nations which include Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Flintlock is an annual, multinational Special Operations Forces exercise designed to reinforce the military capabilities of participating nations. Exercises like Flintlock provide a unique opportunity to enhance regional coordination and address common security challenges.
"Flintlock calls for training together to exchange knowledge and reinforce our operational capabilities," said Col. Mukala Altini, Zone 5 Commander, Forces Armees Nigerinnes, or FAN. "The concept of Flintlock is a result of a common willingness expressed to fight against extremism and terrorism."
Shared tactics and regional cooperation learned at Flintlock 17 can be effectively put into use in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.
"These shared goals are not without their own obstacles," said a U.S. Army Special Forces team commander in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. "Violent extremist organizations do not care about laws, borders, or order. Because of that, they present a security threat not just to our nations participating in Niger, but to the entire region and even the world."
3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) is the U.S. Army Special Operations Force regionally aligned to North and West Africa. Along with Special Operations Forces from Australia, Belgium and Canada, they make up the western partner force in Niger for Flintlock 2017. Over three weeks, the partner nations will work together and exchange tactical movement techniques, advanced marksmanship skills and medical training.
"Medical training is important because it instills confidence in the FAN, they can build that cohesion and depend on each other to get them home if the worst happens in battle," said a U.S. Army Special Forces medical sergeant.
Last year, Exercise Flintlock 2016 was hosted by Senegal and Mauritania. This year, seven countries are hosting Flintlock 2017 as a testament to the growing partnerships between nations in the region and the international community of Special Operations Forces.