February’s program was the first Flintlock exercise to include training delivered by African countries, Morocco and Senegal.
Rabat – Morocco provided airlift support in the US-led “Flintlock” military exercise in Mauritania and Senegal that concluded Friday.
For the first time, African nations took on roles as trainers in the 1,600-troop-strong anti-terrorism exercise. In addition to Morocco’s airlift support, Senegalese instructors taught paramedic skills.
Over 30 countries participated in the two-week-long program, including Morocco, Mauritania, Cameroon, and 12 countries in West Africa.
At the conclusion of Flintlock February 28, Moroccan, Nigerian, and Cameroonian special forces carried out “a raid on a village to take out an unspecified group of extremists,” the BBC reports.
US Air Force Brigadier General Dagvin Anderson called Morocco’s involvement “fantastic” in a telephone press briefing through the US State Department on February 20. “I know one of the great things we’ve got this year is Morocco is providing support, they’re providing airlift in order to support the exercise,” he said.
With the growing threat of terrorism in the Sahel region, Anderson said countries need to work together, especially on intelligence sharing. Morocco’s support in Flintlock, he said, “shows what capabilities other nations can bring to help a common threat that they’re all facing.”
The exercise began February 17, primarily in Mauritania, though some training also occurred in Senegal.
During the exercise, trainers conducted drills on live-fire, mounting and dismounting, reconnaissance, and post-blast analysis, Anderson said. The brigadier general emphasized the need for intelligence sharing, saying that terrorists frequently cross borders.
“I think one of the key pieces that we really want to focus on is intel sharing and the importance of sharing information intelligence on the threat,” Anderson said.
The American military officer noted that more and more people in the Sahel are identifying with al Qaeda.
In past statements, the head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Intelligence, Abdelhak El Khiame has called the Sahel region “a fertile ground for terrorism.”