Posts tagged ‘Morocco’
A U.S.-led multinational military exercise — Flintlock 2017 — is underway in seven northern and western African countries. Flintlock is an annual training exercise for Special Operations Forces (SOF) designed to reinforce cooperation and the capabilities of participating nations.
Nigerien armed forces participate in the opening ceremonies of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Zayid Ballesteros)
In addition to U.S. Green Berets from the 3rd Army Special Forces Group, which is regionally aligned to North and West Africa, SOF units from Australia, Belgium and Canada will be participating in the three-week exercise. The 20 personnel from Canada will include staff from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and medical specialists from Canadian Forces health services group, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Other countries sending troops, 20 in all, include: Algeria, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The region where Flintlock is taking place is threatened by violent radical groups like Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, head of Special Operations Command Africa, said the training is focused on helping partners coordinate a regional response to extremist threats from al Qaeda-aligned groups and the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Stars and Stripes.
“These threats are a shared challenge we can only meet together,” Bolduc said during the Flintlock opening ceremony in Chad,” according to U.S. Africa Command. The exercise will pay special attention to protecting borders and guarding against cross-border attacks. Boko Haram, the Nigerian-based terrorist group, has launched attacks on neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
In, then Out
Troops from South Sudan have ended their incursion into neighboring Sudan after nearly two weeks of fighting over an oil rich area at the two countries’ borders.
The only question is whether the South Sudanese are marching out or running in full retreat. South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in 2011 after an independence vote, has been disputing the accuracy of the borderline drawn between the two countries in a largely desert – but oil rich – region. The secession vote ended a Civil War that had raged since 1983. Last week South Sudanese troops seized the oil town of Heglig on Sudan’s side of the border. That move provoked condemnation from the United Nations, the U.S., Britain and the 53-member African Union. Casualties are believed to be heavy, according to McClatchy Newspapers.
South Sudan officials on Friday said they were withdrawing their troops from Heglig, to avert escalating the conflict, the Associated Press reported. But officials in Sudan say their troops ran the South Sudanese out with a relentless bombing and artillery attack, according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, nature abhors a vacuum. The Central African Republic, a neighboring country west of the two Sudans, claims 11 of its troops were killed in an ambush by rebels from the Darfur region of Sudan seeking guns and ammunition, Reuters reported.
Three U.S. military personnel were killed Friday (April 20) in a one-car crash in Bamako, capital of the strife-torn West African nation of Mali. U.S. Africa Command, which is based in Germany, said the crash was under investigation.
An official in Washington, said one of the three Americans was from U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, and the other two were assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command, the Associated Press reported. The three were in Mali for a training exercise that was called off after a military coup ousted Mali’s democratically-elected president.
The coup was sparked by dissatisfaction with the way the government was handling an insurgency by Tuaregs seeking a separate state. The insurgents became emboldened after the coup and swept over almost half the northern part of the country seizing three large and strategic towns — including fabled desert crossroads, Timbuktu.
Mali’s interim prime minister says he is willing to negotiate with the insurgents but not under duress, Aljazeera reported. But Prime Minister Chick Modibo Diarra says his top priority is winning back the land the Tuaregs declared an independent state.
Marines Die In Morocco
Two Marine corporals were killed April 11 in a helicopter crash outside Agadir, Morocco. The MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed during the bi-lateral training exercise in Morocco known as Africa Lion 2012.
Killed in the accident were Cpl. Robby Reyes and Cpl. Derek Kearns. Both were crew chiefs assigned to the aviation sector of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Two other Marines on board the MV-22 were injured in the crash.
The purpose of the exercise (See Friday Foto below) was to improve cooperation among U.S. and Royal Moroccan troops while conducting amphibious operations as well as aerial refueling and live fire operations.
‘neath African Skies
Marines from the 4th Tank Battalion clean their M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks after a day of training during Exercise Africa Lion 2012 (AL-12). The Africa Command-sponsored bi-lateral exercise in the North African nation of Morocco is led by Marine Forces Africa.
AL-12 includes training with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in amphibious assault, live-fire and maneuvering operations as well as peace keeping procedures. There was also an intelligence capacity building seminar, aerial refueling and low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects.
U.S. forces participating in the exercise this year included Marines and sailors from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The 14th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit based in Fort Worth, Texas and soldiers from the Utah National Guard also participated. The tankers in the photo above are based at Twentynine Palms, California.
Sadly, two Marine helicopter crew chiefs from the 24th MEU’s aviation element died when their MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed in Morocco on April 11. The tragedy illustrates that even training exercises can be dangerous operations.
The annual exercise is designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s military tactics, techniques and procedures.
We will have more on Exercise Africa Lion and the Osprey crash in an AROUND AFRICA posting later today. The photo below shows what an Abrams tank rolling across the Moroccan desert looks like in daylight.
For more dramatic photos from this recently concluded exercise, click here. Make sure your click on each image to enlarge them.