About 1,300 military personnel from more than 30 African and allied nations are to gather in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire respectively in March this year to strengthen their capabilities to counter violent extremism in the region.
Code named: Flintlock 2023, the annual multinational military exercise, slated for March 1 to 15, aims to boost participants’ capacity to collaborate across borders and provide security for their citizenry.
Introduced in 2005, under the United States Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF), the exercise will imbibe in the soldiers the ability to execute their mandate with respect to human rights and build trust with civilians.
Ghana is hosting the 15-day exercise for the first time alongside Côte d’Ivoire, with participating countries including Benin, Cameroon, The Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Austria, Spain, and Portugal.
At a joint press conference in on Friday, SOCAF Deputy Commander, Colonel Robert Zyla, said the operation would leverage the partnership to solve the security challenges that pose threats in the region.
“Violent extremism threatens the stability of not only Africa but also our partners around the globe. A safer and more secure Africa will result in a more prosperous global society and security environment,” he stated.
He said aside from longstanding defence cooperation between Ghanaian and US forces, Ghana had demonstrated tremendous leadership through peacekeeping missions and the operation would present an opportunity for Ghana to continue its contribution to security efforts in the region.
The Director of Operations of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Colonel William Nortey, said this was critical because the fight against contemporary threats such as terrorism and recent security threats in the Sahel could not be won in isolation irrespective of skills and machinery.
He said the 15th edition of the operation would develop a global special operations forces network among African and international partners as well as an information operation campaign to strengthen communication.
The two host nations, he said, would benefit from the interoperability of the different agencies and offer African and western partners the opportunity to learn best practices and adapt to evolving threats associated with new technologies.
“ As citizens of a global village, our collaboration and cooperation in the fight against common threats will go a long way to repose the needed confidence in us as soldiers and reassure citizens of our duty to protect lives and property as well as the sovereignty of our states,” he said.
For his part, Colonel Sekongo Kitchafolwori of the Special Operations of Côte d’Ivoire’s military stated the importance of partnerships to peace and security and noted the operation aims to continue reinforcing the collective ability of allied and partner nations to address key security challenges.
Terrorists’ activities in the region have increased for some years now, worsening therein and occasioning various interventions by countries, including Ghana’s “See Something Say Something” campaign, to protect its peace.