AFRICOM’s Flintlock train to kick off in Cote d’Ivoire amid regional tensions

U.S. troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina are becoming a member of the greater than 400 service members from over 10 African companion and allied nations to take part in a joint army and legislation enforcement train held yearly within the Sahel and West Africa.

Flintlock, U.S. Africa Command’s largest annual particular operations train, has been held yearly since its inception in 2005, except for 2021. Senegal, which was slated to host final yr’s train, was unable to take action following issues by taking part nations over the COVID-19 pandemic.

This yr’s train might be held in Cote d’Ivoire Feb. 15-28.

In keeping with the train’s press launch from AFRICOM, the train is designed to strengthen key regional companion nations’ talents to counter violent extremist organizations, collaborate throughout borders, and supply safety for his or her individuals. It focuses largely on rebuilding regional safety, a purpose that’s grows more and more necessary as native governance and stability proceed to crumble.

“Malign actors and terrorists who search to broaden their affect right here additionally threaten stability all through the world,” the press launch famous. “By bringing collectively the appreciable expertise of African and worldwide companions, we’re collectively stronger and extra able to fixing the foundational points affecting regional and world stability.”

In keeping with a United Nations report launched Monday, each Islamic State and al-Qaeda associates in Africa are persevering with to make strategic advances based mostly on the regional instability following the 4 coups carried out in 2021.

Referring to the 2 terrorist organizations at-large, consultants cited within the report said that the teams “efficiently exploited native grievances and weak governance to command rising numbers of followers and assets, however inside divisions and rivalries.”

This newest report comes simply weeks after the standing authorities in Burkina Faso was overthrown in a army coup that unseated President Roch Kabore and dissolved each the federal government and parliament.

Coup chief Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was named the interim president of the Patriotic Motion for Preservation and Restoration, the state’s new army authorities. In keeping with the 37-page structure the brand new regime put ahead, Damiba can declare the titles of president of Burkina Faso, head of state and supreme chief of the armed forces.

The coup in Burkina Faso marks the primary coup of the yr and the fifth in 13 months.

Neither Burkina Faso nor Mali, which confronted its second coup in a yr in Could 2021, might be taking part on this yr’s Flintlock train in consideration of the creating conditions inside their borders.

Collaborating African nations embody Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Niger, whereas Western companions embody Canada, the U.S., France, Norway and the UK. U.S. troops from numerous items and branches might be taking part, with medical and preventative medication troops from Air Drive Particular Operations becoming a member of Inexperienced Berets from third Special Forces Group. Extra logistic and assist items may even be representing the U.S. on this yr’s train.

“Flintlock is a fairly extraordinary train if you take a look at the scope and the complexity of the entire Western and African companions,” Public Affairs Director for Particular Operations Command Africa, Maj. Andrew Caulk, informed Army Instances.

“Yearly the coaching improves and evolves to what we’re seeing throughout the Sahel but additionally issues that we study and develop when it comes to the train assemble.”

This yr, Caulk mentioned, a number of the focus might be on understanding how African companion nations talk with one another and inside their very own forces operationally and the way to enhance the command and management capabilities.

“One of many challenges of the Sahel — the tactical forces are well-trained and are very efficient within the tactical combat, one of many more durable items is with command and management,” Caulk mentioned. “How can we get intelligence into the era of operations, and the way can we do lengthy vary assist and resupply to advertise outpost operations, as a result of these are those most attacked.”

Whereas Caulk shared that the 2022 train might be smaller in scope following final yr’s cancellation, the hope is to construct it again as much as its full measurement by 2023 whereas nonetheless working off operational requirements famous in earlier years and workout routines.

“We proceed to reinvent the train with further parts that convey within the problem degree up a little bit bit to be able to progress the forces’ talent not simply within the tactical combat however to supply these different joint features like logistics and life assist to make the marketing campaign within the Sahel and throughout the West of Africa extra sustainable,” Caulk mentioned. “We’ve constructed these parts into Flintlock in the previous couple of years and can proceed to take action.

Caulk famous that this yr’s train particularly might be trying to handle a few of these operational parts by imposing the requirement that every one African companion nations needed to self-deploy their troops. So whereas Western forces are additionally deploying themselves, African counterparts are watching and studying the way to strengthen their capability to determine the logistic and motion aspect of issues.

This has additionally led to sure worldwide companions taking a extra lively position within the train, an indication that Caulk says bodes nicely for regional operations.

“We additionally, this yr, have seen that our western companions have stepped up extra, so for example, the Canadians are literally main the assist aspect of the coaching website, which is one thing that the U.S. has primarily offered previously, which may enhance investments from our western companions each within the train and within the area as they give the impression of being to have interaction with our companions and assist to create some extra stability,” he mentioned.

Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Grasp’s candidate at New York College for Enterprise and Financial Reporting.