With its ever increasing African partnership, the US, Senegal and Mali kicked off their first special forces training mission in Mali.
Malian and Senegalese soldiers worked with their counterparts from the Special Operations Task Force (SOF) – 103, taking part in classes on small unit tactics, movements, and convoy vehicle recover drills, May 11, 2010 in Bamako.
The classes were part of Flintlock 10, an exercise focused on military interoperability and capacity-building, which is part of a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored annual exercise program with partner nations in northern and western Africa. Flintlock 10, which includes participation of key European nations, is conducted by Special Operations Command Africa and designed to build relationships and develop capacity among security forces throughout the Trans-Saharan region of Africa.
“I am very grateful for us to receive this training,” said the commander of the Malian Airborne company being trained. “We have soldiers from all over to discuss techniques and tactics and it has been very beneficial for us.”
Over the last few weeks, the U.S. SOF advisors have focused training on close-quarter battle drills, battlefield medical treatment, and mission planning and movement – classes deemed necessary for the Malian and Senegalese soldiers to be able to conduct direct action raids on enemy targets.
“These are the kinds of techniques we can use against al-Qaeda,” said the Malian captain. “They are moving fast. They are not staying in one place, they are always moving. These techniques will help us fight them.”
According to one U.S. SOF soldier training the African soldiers, the focus of the training is to conduct direct-action missions, with a secondary emphasis on team mobility through desert terrain.
“The ultimate goal at the end is to have them run their own missions, from start to finish,” he said.
While the Malians and Senegalese are eager to learn the techniques of the U.S. soldiers, they face a major challenge of not being able to fund equipment, supplies and vehicles which may affect them being able to sustain the training.
“They are eager to learn more everyday; the only question will be if they are able to maintain these skills once we leave,” said the U.S. SOF soldier.
As training concluded for the day, the SOF trainers conducted a review with their African counterparts and explained what’s planned for the coming days.
Approximately 1,200 European, African Partner Nation and U.S. personnel from 14 nations are involved in military interoperability activities across the Trans-Saharan region during Flintlock 10.