Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Special Ops in Africa

US Special Operations forces in Africa are preparing for one of their biggest exercises of the year, a multinational event that spans several West African countries. Chad announced that it would host the Flintlock 2015 exercise, which kicks off Feb. 16 in the capital N'Djamena, with joint training exercises also taking place in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia for several weeks before the event wraps up on March 9. The exercise will bring together approximately 1,300 troops from African and NATO countries, including 673 African forces, 365 NATO forces and 255 US personnel who will take part in a variety of tactical engagements. The operation is almost tailor made for the direction that the US Special Operations Command has set for the troops that it is training and equipping to operate in a post-Afghanistan and Iraq world.

While the SOCOM commander doesn't have operational control over the approximately 70,000 SOF currently on active duty, an initiative led by former commander Adm. William McRaven is helping to inform how the forces operate under the direction of the global combatant commanders, who exert operational control over the SOF under their command. When taking over the helm of SOCOM in 2011, McRaven introduced his plan to keep his forward-deployed operators supplied not only with the latest intelligence on their area of operations, but also to link them up with their SOF brethren around the globe. Dubbed the Global SOF Network, the program connects SOF around the globe to one another as well as with US government interagency partners and regional allies, building on the decade-long relationship that American and NATO SOF had forged through combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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