Small Wars Journal

Special Operations Soldiers Shift Training Emphasis to Help Africans Fight Terror Groups

Special Operations Soldiers Shift Training Emphasis to Help Africans Fight Terror Groups by John Vandiver – Stars & Stripes

AGADEZ, Niger — The Nigerien troops, 250 miles from their higher headquarters in Agadez, were at first reluctant at first to call their commanders with information about the unfolding battle simulation.

During Flintlock 2018, the largest U.S. special operations exercise in Africa, a contingent of Green Berets aimed to eliminate that hesitancy.

“I think they realized they can give feedback back up to the headquarters to provide senior level commanders tactical guidance and vision of the battle. This exercise definitely facilitated that conversation,” said Capt. Neal, a detachment commander with the 3rd Special Forces Group who is identified by his first name only for security reasons.

Since 2005, U.S. special operations forces have been conducting the Flintlock exercise in western Africa. Yet this is the first year when the effort has focused on developing higher level command and control capabilities of the militaries in the region, where local forces are involved in a battle against militant groups that commanders say has gained momentum in recent years.

The transition from training centered on small unit combat skills to advising higher level teams coincides with shifts in how missions involving U.S. troops in Niger will be conducted.

In the wake of the October ambush in the Nigerien village of Tongo Tongo, the risk U.S. forces face in isolated parts of Africa was brought into focus. Four U.S. soldiers were killed in the attack while on a joint patrol with local forces…

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