Niger-Hosted Exercise Enhances Regional Cooperation, Security


Exercise Flintlock 2018 opened yesterday with a ceremony here.

Governor of Niger's Tahoua region speaks.
Tahoua regional Gov. Elhadj Mahamadou Zéti Maiga speaks to the participants of Flintlock 2018 in Tahoua, Niger, April 11, 2018. Flintlock 2018, hosted by Niger, with key outstations at Burkina Faso and Senegal, is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to counter violent extremist organizations, protect borders and provide security for citizens. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria
Governor of Niger's Tahoua region speaks.
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Tahoua regional Gov. Elhadj Mahamadou Zéti Maiga speaks to the participants of Flintlock 2018 in Tahoua, Niger, April 11, 2018. Flintlock 2018, hosted by Niger, with key outstations at Burkina Faso and Senegal, is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to counter violent extremist organizations, protect borders and provide security for citizens. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria

Niger is hosting this year’s Flintlock exercise, an annual regional event among African, allied and U.S. counterterrorism forces. There are key outstations at Burkina Faso and Senegal.

Exercises like Flintlock enhance regional coordination and address common security challenges.

Supporting Regional Cooperation, Security

“This ceremony marks the beginning of Exercise Flintlock 2018. It’s a fantastic opportunity for all African and all western partner nations to support regional cooperation, security and interoperability,” said Capt. Neal an Army Special Forces “A” team commander in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

During the next two weeks, he said, Flintlock exercise participants “will work tirelessly, to conduct rigorous training, to build capacities and capabilities with one common goal: to promote peace, prosperity and security on the African continent.”

Military officer speaks at podium.
Col. Mohamed Toumba, Niger Armed Forces Zone 4 commander, speaks to dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony for the Flintlock 2018 exercise in Tahoua, Niger, April 11, 2018. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria
Military officer speaks at podium.
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Col. Mohamed Toumba, Niger Armed Forces Zone 4 commander, speaks to dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony for the Flintlock 2018 exercise in Tahoua, Niger, April 11, 2018. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria

Shared tactics and regional cooperation learned during the exercise can be effectively put into use in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

“This is an honor for me to host Exercise Flintlock here. The exercise takes place in three different zones within Niger: Agadez, Tahoua and Oaullam,” said Col. Mohamed Toumba, Niger Armed Forces Zone 4 commander.

Special Operations Forces Partnership

Special operations forces from the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom make up the western partner force in Tahoua for Flintlock 2018. During the exercise the partner nations will work together and exchange tactical movement techniques, advanced marksmanship skills and medical training.

"Medical training is important, because it increases the capabilities of the partner force. This year, we are working with the Senegalese army and they can build that cohesion and depend on each other to get them home if the worst happens in battle," said Staff Sgt. Spencer, an Army Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha medical sergeant who is also in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed at Fort Bragg.

Exercises like Flintlock help strengthen the defense capabilities of African states and regional organizations  enabling them to address security threats more effectively -- ultimately reducing threats to U.S. citizens and interests abroad and at home.

(Editor’s Note: U.S. service members’ full names don’t appear in the article due to security policy.)