US Ambassador, Niger Media Visit Flintlock 2017 in Diffa
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria
DIFFA, NIGER—Ambassador Eunice S. Reddick, the U.S. ambassador to Niger, traveled from Niamey to Diffa, Niger, with journalists from national-level media organizations to observe training during Flintlock 2017, March 7. Governor Dan Dano Mahamadou Lawaly, the governor of Diffa, hosted Reddick at his official residence where regional leaders and members of non-governmental organizations discussed the importance of adopting a cooperative approach to address security challenges through multinational engagements like Exercise Flintlock. This year, Niger is one of seven nations to host the annual, multinational exercise for Special Operations Forces.
“I was really impressed by how Flintlock was conducted,” Reddick said to journalists. “The Flintlock exercise is a very good example of coordination and collaboration between Western and African countries.”
At Camp Diffa, journalists witnessed live marksmanship training and small unit tactics training in addition to attending briefings from the Forces Armees Nigeriennes Flintlock director and the U.S. Special Operations Forces commander for Flintlock in Diffa. Lastly, FAN Col. Mukala Altini, Zone 5 commander, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Paone, U.S. deputy director for Flintlock 2017, answered questions from journalists.
“I think the partner nations this year during the exercise share three common goals. Countering violent extremist organizations, increasing peace and stability, and regional cooperation,” Paone said. “What the exercise is helping to do is build capacity and security which leads to good governance.”
Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations designed to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to protect their borders and provide security for their people. Flintlock also strengthens security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information and develop interoperability among African and western partner nations.
“This year 2017 we have the honor and privilege to organize Flintlock 2017 here in Diffa,”said Col. Altini. “This isn’t the first time the exercise has been in Diffa and the objective is still the same. It’s a pleasure to work with our U.S. and western partners.”
Last year, Flintlock was hosted in Senegal and Mauritania. The increase of host nations is a testament to a growing multinational partnership in the region. This was the second time since the exercise started in 2005 that Niger has hosted Flintlock.