US, Mali armies kick off Exercise Atlas Accord; postpone Exercise Flintlock


United States and Mali army personnel have kicked off the combed aerial delivery exercise Atlas Accord 12, but have postponed Exercise Flintlock 12 due to the Tuareg rebellion, which broke out last month.

The 400 Malian Defence Force personnel and 125 Americans participating in the annual Atlas Accord are focusing on training in logistics command and control, air drop preparation and helicopter resupply. The weeklong exercise is running from January 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 have committed to sending small teams to participate in Atlas Accord 12. The exercise consists of classroom instruction and a Field Training Exercise.

Amongst the American units deployed to Mali is the 807th Medical Deployment Support Command (MDSC), from Fort Douglas, Utah, which is seizing this 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.

Treore said the supplies are very practical, easy to use, and helpful to the Malian Medical Defense Forces.
“We are training with the Malian medical personnel on different types of equipment that include cervical braces, finger splints, ring cutters, pressure bandages, back boards and more,” said Major Dean A Nelson, a family physician assigned to the 328th Combat Support Hospital (CSH), 807th MDSC.
“These Malian soldiers and medical personnel have on-the-job training, so it is very rewarding to show them and see their excitement when we demonstrate the proper use of the equipment,” said Sergeant La Tonia R Luna, an 807th MDSC Army healthcare specialist.

American medical personnel gained experience from working with the Malians. “I learned they do a lot with a little. I don’t know how they handle trauma situations but, it’s impressive how they do it,” said Staff Sergeant Anthony P Baca, an 807th MDSC Army healthcare specialist.
“Training will help our medics become better since they are teaching the Malians through interpreters and have to move slowly and ensure they are understood; it gives them a better understanding of the training they are providing,” said Lieutenant Colonel David H Moikeha, an emergency physician, assigned to the 94th Combat Support Hospital, 807th MDSC.

Baca said he is impressed with the willingness to learn of both militaries. Luna agreed.
“The Malians asked very good questions and were curious about the use of the equipment and now they know how to use it to help their patients,” Luna said.
“Helping patients recover is important to the people,” Treore said.
“We receive so much trauma from highway accidents, military and civilian,” he said. “The equipment we have will help us care for the trauma patients we receive at our level.”

Treore added he was grateful for the experience. “I appreciate the cooperation with the US Army,” he said. It (the training) is very practical and it will help us face all of our needs.”

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).

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.