US service members joined troops from six partner nations with the purpose of sharing their knowledge of aerial resupply and recovery of as part of exercise Atlas Accord in Mali.
Members of the US 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted pathfinder training to locate suitable drop zones, cleared the area to ensure the safety of local residents, marked the drop zones for the aircraft and recovered supplies.
“The training was really interesting,” said Malian Army Sergeant Oumar Traore, as airborne infantryman.
“The 19th SFG taught us to set-up the operational readiness platform, to send out reconnaissance patrols, and establish security at the drop zone. We’ve learned how to conduct these operations under any circumstances. This exercise also helps us work with troops from other nations,” he said.
US Army Captain Bob V Luthor from Huntington, West Virginia, a team leader with Co C, 2nd Bn, 19th SFG (Abn) chimed in, “The participants were very attentive and we were able to show them our tactics and see theirs as well. It’s been great to see troops from all these nations come together to get the ‘mission’ accomplished.”
There have been challenges, but the Malians were very resourceful, Luther continued. They removed a second set of pilot flight controls from one of the smaller aircraft to fit the supplies and personnel to drop them.
The focus of the exercise was to deliver supplies to people who may not have access to normal supply lines due to natural disasters or other difficult circumstances.
The pathfinder training during Atlas Accord 12 can potentially help future joint operations between partner nations to deliver humanitarian supplies safely to those in need.
400 Malian Defence Force personnel and 125 Americans participated in the annual Atlas Accord, which ran from February 7 to 15, US Africa Command reports.
In partnership with the Mali Defence Force and the US Army, militaries from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, and Uganda committed to sending small teams to participate in Atlas Accord 12. The exercise consisted of classroom instruction and a Field Training Exercise.
Amongst the American units deployed to Mali was the 807th Medical Deployment Support Command (MDSC), from Fort Douglas, Utah, which seized the opportunity to expand on training.
While in Mali, 807th medics were asked by Malian Army Colonel Youssouf Treore, commander of the medical detachment in Mopti, to aid Malian medical personnel in the use of supplies they received from US forces several years ago.
The Army plans to continue aerial-delivery training with African partner nations during Atlas Accord 13. Future training will build upon previous exercises and incorporate Command, Control, Communications, computers and Intelligence techniques (C4I).
While Atlas Accord has gone ahead, the United States and Mali have postponed Exercise Flintlock 12 due to the Tuareg rebellion, which broke out last month. The Associated Press reports that the biannual Exercise Flintlock was due to bring 2 000 soldiers from 16 African, European and US troops together later this month. One of Flintlock’s main aims is to assist African armies in counterterrorism training.