This year’s iteration of the annual Flintlock special operations exercise began yesterday in Niger. The annual exercise, directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sponsored by US Africa Command, and run by Joint Special Operations Task Force – Trans Sahara, is an important component of US counter-terrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel region. This region stretches the length of the continent, dividing North Africa from sub-Saharan Africa.
Though the participants have not yet been named, reports indicate that one thousand personnel from eighteen countries will take part. This is four more than took part in last year’s exercise, hosted by Mauritania.
That the exercise this year is being held in Niger is unsurprising. The country borders Algeria, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria, all of which are currently battling major terrorist groups. As a result Niger has recently become a major partner with the US and French militaries, both of whom are conducting drone operations from a base adjacent to the airport in the capital Niamey. This year’s Flintlock is another indicator of increasing concerns about terrorist groups in the region.
You can read more about this in an article I wrote today for War is Boring.