West African ‘Flintlock’ Military Exercises Wrap Up

Nigerian soldiers display the flags of participating countries during opening ceremonies.

A two-week U.S.-lead training program in west Africa that included over 400 soldiers has come to an end. The program was dubbed ‘Flintlock’ and focused primarily on counter-terrorism and combating extremism in the region. The exercises involved 29 countries and included personnel from Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria. British High Commissioner to Ghana, Non-Resident Ambassador to Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo, Harriet Thompson, spoke about Flintlock saying, “Partnership is at the very center of every exercise, meeting, and speech that happens as part of Operation Flintlock. As nations, we will work together to share expertise, knowledge, and best practice to strengthen peace and security across the Sahel and Coastal West Africa because we know that a safer, more secure continent means a safer, more secure, and ultimately prosperous world.”

Along with the counter-terrorism exercises, 1,300 participants took part in academic courses on the Rule of Law, tactical combat casualty care, close-quarters battle, and range qualifications. Ghana Armed Forces Col. Richard Mensah spoke about the exercises and said, “The global threat to terrorism is real, and we need to be ready now because special operations are not created during emergencies. We can’t always use kinetic means to defeat terrorist activities, but we can involve other non-security sectors to win the hearts and minds of the local population to fight security challenges within the region.” U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert Zyla also spoke about the exercises and said, “Through close coordination and planning with all of our partners, we have grown this exercise from more than just tactical training event. “This year, we have expanded our headquarters staff allowing participants the opportunity to increase communication with each other, strengthen our ability to share information, and foster a collaborative environment to address regional security concerns. With the establishment of this headquarters, our mentors from around the world have worked alongside SOCAFRICA and USAFRICOM teammates to incorporate and expand our legal and engagement operations.”