US Stages Annual Military Exercise as Questions Linger About Its African Role

Amid unresolved questions about the role of its military in Africa, the U.S. has kicked off a two-week exercise in Agadez, Niger, designed to strengthen security partnerships and train elite counterterrorism units in the volatile Sahel region.

Flintlock, an annual military exercise directed by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, involves participants from eight African countries and 12 Western countries. The event helps regional partners learn to work together to patrol vast, ungoverned spaces where terrorist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram operate.

Major General J. Mark Hicks, the commander for Special Operations Command Africa, said the investment in training in the region is crucial because the terror groups control only patches of…

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