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    Joint Multinational Headquarters Nerve Center of Flintlock 2019

    Joint Multinational Headquarters Nerve Center of Flintlock 2019

    Photo By Richard Bumgardner | Senior Capt. Jellen Koch (center), a Belgian participant to Flintlock 2019, describes...... read more read more



    Story by Richard Bumgardner 

    U.S. Africa Command

    Burkina Faso, the West African country, home to the temporary Joint Multinational Headquarters (JMHQ) of Flintlock 2019, and three Flintlock training sites, is known in the local languages of Mossi and Dioula, as the ‘Land of Upright People’.

    Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, supported by Special Operations Command - Africa, and staffed by hundreds of African and western partners, Flintlock is developing into an increasingly relevant, operationally effective exercise, that analyzes and develops collaborative African and western solutions to real security challenges in the Sahel.

    Unique to this year’s exercise is the expanding list of operational training cadre, instructors and the addition of African legal advisors in share legal and cultural perspectives with the U.S. Flintlock advisors. Here they drafted rules of engagement that addressed international human rights law, domestic law and legal training to leaders.

    “Now, for the first time in the history of Flintlock, we have African nations training other African nations,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Hicks, commander, Special Operations Command Africa.

    “The Nigeriens, Moroccans, Chadians and others have all sent personnel to serve as training cadre. The importance of this cannot be overstated,” Hicks said.

    It is here at JMHQ that more than 100 soldiers and civilians, men and women from more than 30 countries, speaking a multitude of languages and dialects, have gathered to form the backbone of this temporary headquarters.

    Most have real-world deployments: having supported missions with NATO, missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Multi-national Joint Task Force, the United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, Lake Chad Task Force, or helping stand up and support G-5 Sahel operations.

    After two solid weeks of staff action training, to include International Human Rights law, Law of Armed Conflict, military decision-making process, and ways to utilize the DoD’s All Partners Access Network to share information and knowledge, African staff officers were ready to tackle the simulated security challenges ahead of them.

    U.S. Army Col. Max Krupp, the senior mentor to the JMHQ, told the staff, “It’s exciting for me personally, to see so many western and African partners come together in a short period of time to form the nucleus of a joint multinational staff and train together against a common adversary.”

    Using real-world experience and scenarios designed to build partner capabilities and provide partner forces with valuable training and experience in operational command and control, participants of Flintlock are here for three common goals: to build trust, relationships and the training cadre needed to turn Flintlock over to African military partners.

    It is also at this temporary headquarters located outside Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, that African-led staff, most junior or mid-level officers, provide comprehensive daily briefings to their leadership and hour-by-hour coordination to outstation forces. U.S. and western partners watch, listen, take notes and provide guidance when necessary.

    One of those mid-level officers, Maj Cko Didace Da, from the Burkinabe army, ran the J3 Operations desk for almost the entire three-week exercise. Having one of the more difficult positions on the staff, he actually felt it would benefit him in his future military career.

    “It really was a great opportunity to make contacts and share experiences, which will greatly affect my decision-making in future operations, “ Da said.

    Outside the walls of the headquarters, members of the JECG, who manage the pace and timing of the exercise, push out scenarios injects, designed to put pressure on the multi-national officers to develop them into future leaders of multi-national and multi-lateral security organizations.

    “Flintlock 19 signals a shift in focus to the strategic and operational level,” Krupp said. “Tactical victories alone will not deter the spread of violent extremism.”

    Previous Flintlock exercises have successfully focused on training at the field or tactical level.

    “This refocus is due to the tactical proficiency of our African partners who continue to train each other and who understand the need to collaborate at a higher level to counter the transnational and regional threats in the Sahel.”

    Hicks, having observed the Flintlock exercise last year in Niger, encouraged exercise participants, especially partner forces dealing with violent extremists, to remain committed and to learn from this shared experience.

    “With continued commitment and engagements like this I’m confident our partners can turn the tide on Salafi jihadist threats we face here,” Hicks said. “The lessons we learn during Flintlock will bring us tangibly closer to securing a peaceful future for your nations and for your children.”



    Date Taken: 02.28.2019
    Date Posted: 02.28.2019 15:47
    Story ID: 312294
    Location: BF

    Web Views: 293
    Downloads: 0