Exercise Flintlock 2020
Exercise Flintlock 2020

Exercise Flintlock 2020

Approximately 1,600 service members from more than 30 African and partner nations will participate in Flintlock 2020 at multiple locations in Mauritania and Senegal from Feb. 17-28, 2020. Flintlock is an annual, African-led, integrated military and law enforcement exercise that has strengthened key partner-nation forces throughout North and West Africa as well as Western Special Operations Forces since 2005. Flintlock is U.S. Africa Command’s premier and largest annual Special Operations Forces exercise. Strategic threats will emanate from Africa that will pose not only regional challenges to U.S. interests but global ones as well. These threats include malign actors with regional and global reach as well as terrorist networks with large aspirations.

Moroccan soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Infantry Paratroopers engage a simulated enemy during the opening days of Flintlock near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.
Moroccan soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Infantry Paratroopers engage a simulated enemy during the opening days of Flintlock near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.

This year Flintlock will be hosted by Mauritania with one outstation in Senegal. The exercise is designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to counter violent extremist organizations, protect their borders, and provide security for their people. The willingness of Mauritania and Senegal to host this year’s exercise reflects a positive and broader commitment by African partners to help solve African problems. Additionally, the exercise bolsters partnerships between African, U.S., and International Special Operations Forces and law enforcement agencies, increasing their ability to work together during ongoing multinational operations and in response to crises.

A Burkinabe soldier pulls security before a training patrol during the opening days of Flintlock 20 near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.
A Burkinabe soldier pulls security before a training patrol during the opening days of Flintlock 20 near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.

Participating African nations include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. International partners include Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Flintlock reflects a mutual commitment to countering malign activity and violent extremists throughout the trans-Sahel region. Since 2005, nations from throughout Africa, Europe, North America and elsewhere have come together in austere environments to work and train together with one clear goal: to help improve conditions and the capabilities of partner nations so the people in this region can pursue a life free from violence.

Members of the Guinea Armed Forces practice advanced weapons techniques during Flintlock 20 in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Feb. 15, 2020.
Members of the Guinea Armed Forces practice advanced weapons techniques during Flintlock 20 in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Feb. 15, 2020.

While regional security is the main focus of the exercise, lessons learned and shared at Flintlock will create lasting effects beyond North and West Africa. The terrorists who seek to expand their influence here also potentially threaten our friends throughout the world. By bringing together the considerable talent of African and international partners, we are collectively stronger, and we can stop the cancer of violent extremism from spreading. Flintlock is not focused on any specific security situation but instead on developing capacity and strengthening bonds among exercise participants. Each of the hosting nations have been instrumental in leading the planning efforts of Flintlock 2020, and this cumulative exercise will continue to build on the success of previous Flintlock exercises to make all of us stronger and ready to take on the challenges of today and the years to come.

A British specialized infantry soldier informs Moroccan soldiers about the tactics that will be used against enemy threats during the opening days of Flintlock 20 near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.
A British specialized infantry soldier informs Moroccan soldiers about the tactics that will be used against enemy threats during the opening days of Flintlock 20 near Thies, Senegal, Feb. 16, 2020.

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