Military personnel from 28 African and Western countries have started the US Africa Command’s Flintlock 2015 exercise, in N’Djamena, Chad.
The exercise features more than 1,200 soldiers from Burkina Faso, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Mali, Czech Republic, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as the UK and the US.
With outstations in several other countries, including Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia, Flintlock 2015 comes at a time when several African countries are fighting against the Nigerian insurgent group Boko Haram.
Flintlock 2015 director Chadian brigadier general Zakaria Ngobongue was quoted by Reuters as saying: "This exercise, to a large extent, can be considered a warm-up to enable our special forces to learn techniques in the fight against terrorism."
An undisclosed US military spokesperson said the exercise involves participation from more than 250 US personnel and includes intelligence-sharing, training for patrols and desert survival techniques, as well as airborne operations and small-unit tactics.
The US military will leave its communications equipment in Chad the drill in an effort to improve communications among regional armies, the spokesperson added.
Scheduled to conclude on 9 March, Flintlock 2015 aims to help build relationships to reinforce the capacity of participating militaries to secure a stable environment for growth and development.
Conducted by Special Operations Command Forward-West Africa since 2005, it seeks to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region, while improving collaboration and coordination among African, Western and US counter-terrorism forces.