N'DJAMENA, Chad -- More than 20 Nations came together as Flintlock 17 kicked off with its opening ceremony Feb. 27, in N'Djamena. The annual training exercise is a Special Operations exercise with more than 2,000 participants from across Africa, Europe and North America.
The three-week, Special Operations Forces-focused exercise began in 2005 and has grown to include police, border protection services and academia aimed at increasing safety and security in Africa while strengthening government institutions, promoting multilateral sharing of information and developing interoperability among partner nations of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
With approximately 2,000 military and support staff in attendance, Chadian Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue, the Flintlock exercise director, welcomed the guests from the various countries as the ceremony began. Countries also hosting training events include Niger, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, and Mauritania.
This is the second time Chad has hosted the Flintlock series of exercises. Training will focus on skills such as small unit tactics, medical evacuations, and desert survival. The exercise helps build the capabilities of the key African partners as well as promote regional cooperation and interoperability.
"The challenge in front of every nation represented here today is the spread of violent extremism and how we will work together to stop these illicit organizations," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, commander of Special Operations Command Africa. "Flintlock isn't the beginning of our cooperation -- this training is how we solidify our cooperation and ensure we are ready for the future. Confronting the volatile, uncertain future is not a task we take on alone; we are all in this together."
"This environment is plagued with insecurity and this exercise is an added value and a great opportunity for our special forces to benefit from the shared training of participating nations," said Chadian Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue. "Terrorism, one of the major dangers of the third millennium, threatens the stability of states and security of citizens while fueling violence and hatred."
The exercise helps to achieve U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) objectives for military capacity development training and multinational regional cooperation. Participating nations are members in the TSCTP and are planned by African partner nation Special Operations Forces and SOCAFRICA to develop the capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations.
"The flag on your uniform is irrelevant at Flintlock as you bring your own expertise and share it with someone wearing a different uniform or speaking a different language," said Bolduc. "And it's our goal after Flintlock to make the flag on your uniform irrelevant to the enemy."
Through exercises such as Flintlock, SOCAFRICA, USAFRICOM and the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) provide military training opportunities to foster relationships of peace, security and cooperation among all Trans-Saharan nations through the TSCTP program.
"The challenge in front of every nation represented here today is the spread of violent extremism and how we will work together to stop these illicit organizations," said Bolduc. "Flintlock isn't the beginning of our cooperation -- this training is how we solidify our cooperation and ensure we are ready for the future.
"We are stronger together, we work smarter together, and we are more effective together."