USA/African Union

Multi­na­tion­al Exer­cise Sparks Change for Africa

By Maj. Eric Hilliard
Spe­cial to Amer­i­can Forces Press Service 

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain, Nov. 20, 2008 — U.S. Africa Com­mand wrapped up a 14-nation exer­cise here today that lead­ers say was a big step for­ward in increas­ing African nations’ abil­i­ty to man­age their own security. 

Senegalese soldiers practice exiting the ramp of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 in Bamako
Sene­galese sol­diers prac­tice exit­ing the ramp of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 in Bamako, Mali, Nov. 12, 2008. The sol­diers are par­tic­i­pat­ing in U.S. Africa Command’s Oper­a­tion Flint­lock, a 14-nation mul­ti­force exer­cise with a focus on help­ing African nations.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. Nicholas Hernande 

The exer­cise, known as Flint­lock 09, was devel­oped as a joint multi­na­tion­al exer­cise to improve infor­ma­tion shar­ing at the oper­a­tional and tac­ti­cal lev­els across the Saha­ran region while fos­ter­ing increased col­lab­o­ra­tion and coor­di­na­tion. Effec­tive mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary train­ing and multi­na­tion­al region­al coop­er­a­tion were the keys to suc­cess, Africom offi­cials said. 

The exercise’s focus was on counter-ter­ror­ism efforts, but it encom­passed much more, orga­niz­ers said. 

“Flint­lock brought the exper­tise and expe­ri­ence from each nation togeth­er so that the entire team could ben­e­fit,” Gen. William “Kip” Ward, Africom com­man­der, told par­tic­i­pants in a video mes­sage. “By work­ing along­side each oth­er, you helped improve the secu­ri­ty capac­i­ty and capa­bil­i­ty of all the par­tic­i­pat­ing nations.” 

Africom lead­ers con­sid­er the abil­i­ty to work togeth­er, with Africans lead­ing the way, as essen­tial to ensur­ing the com­mon goal of a sta­ble and secure Africa. This includes stem­ming the flow of illic­it arms, goods and peo­ple, pre­vent­ing out­laws from estab­lish­ing sanc­tu­ar­ies in the Trans-Saha­ran region, multi­na­tion­al efforts to respond to nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and more, they said. 

Niger Army Maj. Toure Sey­dou Abdel Aziz said his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the exer­cise would fos­ter bet­ter rela­tions for his coun­try and its sur­round­ing neigh­bors to pro­tect the region. 

“My main role as a mil­i­tary offi­cer is to keep Niger’s ter­ri­to­ry safe,” Aziz said. ” On a larg­er scale, we also must help our neigh­bors keep their ter­ri­to­ries safe from ter­ror­ism. Flint­lock helps Niger by cre­at­ing a link with our part­ners and help­ing us learn about each oth­er. This way, by us know­ing each oth­er now, we will be able to work bet­ter togeth­er in the future.” 

More than 200 peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ed in Flint­lock, a part of Africom’s Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom-Trans Sahara, which pro­vides mil­i­tary sup­port to State Depart­ment pro­grams that, togeth­er, aim to enhance region­al secu­ri­ty in Africa by also address­ing eco­nom­ic and social devel­op­ment, as well as things like dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness and med­ical emergencies. 

The exer­cise con­sist­ed of small-unit com­bined train­ing and activ­i­ties involv­ing U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tion forces and part­ner nation mil­i­taries through­out the region. Among oth­er things, the exer­cise includ­ed the first-ever deploy­ment of the U.S. Air Force Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Command’s CV-22 Osprey to the African con­ti­nent. It also includ­ed train­ing in cri­sis response and med­ical and vet­eri­nary skills in the hopes of extend­ing those skills to Africa’s rur­al people. 

The exer­cise includ­ed a Multi­na­tion­al Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter where mil­i­tary lead­ers col­lab­o­rat­ed and devel­oped con­cepts and plans with del­e­ga­tions from six African nations and five Euro­pean nations. A reli­gious lay leader was there to bridge cul­tur­al and lan­guage gaps. 

“I’m espe­cial­ly impressed with some of the frank dis­cus­sions tak­ing place amongst the African part­ner nation rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered here,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Steve Wisotz­ki, com­man­dant of the Multi­na­tion­al Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter for the exer­cise. “We’ve real­ly tried hard to fos­ter an envi­ron­ment that empha­sizes our core shared val­ues and inter­ests, while not allow­ing our­selves to be dis­tract­ed too much by the chang­ing polit­i­cal land­scapes on all sides.” 

“The cama­raderie we’ve shared dur­ing the exer­cise, both pro­fes­sion­al­ly and per­son­al­ly, has been refresh­ing­ly heart­felt,” said Wisotz­ki, the com­man­dant of the exer­cise. “There’s no doubt that the seeds of change have been sown, and that the new ener­gy that Africom brings to the con­ti­nent is being absorbed by all. It’s been a great exer­cise and incred­i­bly reward­ing for me to be a part of it. I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the effort.” 

“What we did here was to essen­tial­ly design a frame­work for coop­er­a­tion,” Army Lt. Col. Peter Tate said of the cen­ter. “The MCC con­cept in this envi­ron­ment is a new mod­el. We are all learn­ing, togeth­er, how to make it work.” 

With mul­ti­ple nations from var­i­ous walks of life and sev­er­al faiths par­tic­i­pat­ing in the exer­cise, the plan­ners of the Flint­lock 09 exer­cise lis­tened to feed­back from the pre­vi­ous exer­cise two years ago and ded­i­cat­ed a room in the multi­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tion cen­ter for prayer and reflection. 

U.S. Army Capt. Michael Cor­ley helped lead the reli­gious ser­vices. “They wel­comed my insights into what I felt were the best ways to extend the free­dom to prac­tice reli­gion to our part­ner nations. I think pro­vid­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty… was one of best things the com­mand could have done. Feed­back from those who took advan­tage of the prayer room was over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive. It went that extra effort to show that the U.S.… prac­tices what it preach­es when it comes to encour­ag­ing free­dom of reli­gious expression. 

“Serv­ing as a reli­gious minor­i­ty group lay-leader dur­ing Flint­lock 09 was tru­ly one of the best efforts I have ever had the plea­sure of par­tic­i­pat­ing in dur­ing my mil­i­tary career,” Cor­ley added. 

Dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­monies for the cen­ter yes­ter­day, Maj. Gen. Antho­ny Jack­son, Africom direc­tor of oper­a­tions and logis­tics, com­ment­ed about the cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences between the Unit­ed States and some of the oth­er militaries. 

“As many of you have expressed, and as I have heard on numer­ous occa­sions through­out my trav­els to Africa and oth­er coun­tries around the world, is that we Amer­i­cans are very end-result ori­ent­ed and will take the fastest route pos­si­ble to achieve an objec­tive,” Jack­son said. “We some­times do not take the time to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the cul­tur­al sen­si­tiv­i­ties that could often hin­der us from achiev­ing that objec­tive. I hope that dur­ing the course of this exer­cise, our team lead­ers spent as much time lis­ten­ing as they did leading.” 

Maj. Gen. Edward Lea­cock, deputy direc­tor of Africom’s Intel­li­gence and Knowl­edge Devel­op­ment Divi­sion, told par­tic­i­pants he hoped the exer­cise “sets a strong prece­dent for future U.S. Africa Com­mand engage­ments where the U.S. mil­i­tary will active­ly seek the part­ner­ship of African stake­hold­ers to meet com­mon challenges.” 

Lea­cock added that he hoped a multi­na­tion­al force “will help our part­ner nations stand togeth­er to bold­ly con­front the human­i­tar­i­an crises in the Sahel and African Sahara regions.” 

(Maj. Eric Hilliard works in the U.S. Africa Com­mand pub­lic affairs office). 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →