U.S. Africa Command’s Largest Annual Special Ops Exercise Begins

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon announced today that U.S. Africa Command’s largest annual special operations exercise, Flintlock 24, commenced Monday with an opening ceremony in Côte d’Ivoire.

Running through May 24, Flintlock 24 features participation from U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOC Africa) alongside nearly 30 nations and approximately 1,300 personnel in locations hosted by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Flintlock is U.S. Africa Command’s premiere and largest annual special operations forces exercise that works to strengthen combined partner force collaboration in Africa alongside international and NATO international special operations forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing.

Earlier this year, SOC Africa and the Ghana Armed Forces conducted a final planning event, covering topics such as the rule of law, civil affairs activities, air operations, and women, peace, and security, according to a SOC Africa press release.

“The partnerships that we forge here will allow us to address the threats on the continent. It’s a collective group effort,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ronald A. Foy, SOC Africa commander, stated.

“Flintlock’s a mechanism that opens doors for all international allies and partners to come together, to train together, to live together, to learn from each other,” added U.S. Army Maj. Adam DeMarco, SOC Africa Flintlock 24 lead planner. “It really builds enduring and sustainable partnerships that will last the test of time, whether it’s in Flintlock or in real-world operations.”

Maj. Gen. Ryder also highlighted the ongoing Exercise Obangame Express 2024, which has been taking place since May 6 along Africa’s west coast, primarily in and around Gabon. Sponsored by Africom and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, this 13-nation maritime interdiction training exercise is occurring in the Ghanaian city of Sekondi through May 17.

“Through Obangame Express, U.S. forces work alongside participating nations to improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in West Africa, and increase interoperability between U.S., African, and multinational partners,” Ryder said, emphasizing the importance of these exercises in building strong relationships and ensuring the security and safety of the region’s maritime environment.

“The exercises are incredibly important and they are enduring,” Ryder stated, noting their significance in counterterrorism, addressing regional threats, and managing humanitarian crises. “Those exercises are central to enabling our forces to not only interoperate but to understand one another and to have those kinds of relationships that — on the day you need them most — they’re there.”–NA