The annual Flintlock exercise wrapped up on Monday in N’Djamena with a closing ceremony that brought together senior leaders from over 20 participating countries.
The Chadian exercise director, Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue, when bidding farewell to the guests and participants from different African and Western partner nations, who trained tirelessly in Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia, thanked the troops for their professionalism. “I am pleased to note that the progress made during this exercise was tangible and these results were reached thanks to willing participants.”
Ngonbongue thanked partner nations for the quality medical and humanitarian assistance that benefited citizens in locations near Mao, Faya and Moussoro. Similar medical activities were also conducted in Agadez, Niger.
The closing ceremony of the Flintlock exercise was also attended by the Commanding General of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Gen. David Rodriguez, who thanked Chad for being a great host to this year’s Flintlock despite the security challenges the country faces.
“It is important to recognize that exercise Flintlock 2015 was successfully conducted by Chad and other African partners while actively engaged in combat operations against Boko Haram. The capacity to execute real world operations while simultaneously training to increase capacity and capability, demonstrates a level of proficiency exhibited only by an extremely professional, capable, and disciplined military,” said Rodriguez during the closing ceremony.
This year’s exercise was the largest Flintlock to date and has continued to build on the success of previous exercises. The three-week Chad hosted event included the implementation of a collaborative Command and Control and information sharing systems, which will remain in place for African partners to share operational information and intelligence with each other, as well as international partners.
Over 1,000 personnel from over 20 countries participated in Flintlock ‘15, with locations in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia. Ten flight crews from Belgium, the United States, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, and the United Kingdom moved most of the troops and 500,000 pounds of cargo with 113 flights. In all the locations, each soldier received 150 hours of training.
They also conducted four community activities, met with key leaders, and treated 1,800 people in several medical assistance clinics. Chadian and U.S. military, as well as U.S. Embassy personnel, also conducted outreach to an orphanage in N’Djamena, supporting victims of war, HIV, and poverty. With the support of non-governmental organization Spirit of America, $4,500 of educational supplies, hygiene tools, and basic items like blankets, sheets, towels, and mosquito nets were given to 59 orphans.
The tactical portion of Flintlock 2015 consisted of small-unit combined training and activities involving partner nation counter-terrorism units and military humanitarian relief operations to help improve the basic medical, dental and veterinary access for some communities in Chad and Niger.
As an enduring exercise, Flintlock is not focused on any specific security situation, but instead on developing security capacity, building professionalism, and strengthening bonds among exercise participants. Flintlock exercises began in 2005 and are conducted by the Special Operations Command Forward – West Africa (SOCFWD-WA) and sponsored by Africa Command’s Special Operations component to develop the capacity of and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations across the Sahel region of Africa.
Flintlock exercises strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among the partner nations of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). Through exercises such as Flintlock, the United States Special Operations Command provides military training opportunities to foster relationships of peace, security, and cooperation among all Trans-Saharan nations through the TSCTP program.