Tuesday, 10 March 2015

United States Special Forces Train Chadian Soldiers To Fight Boko Haram

Chadian troops, alongside soldiers from more than 20 other countries are undergoing training “in the deep desert,” in continuation of their ongoing war against Boko Haram militants in the North-Eastern Nigeria and a few neighbouring countries.

According to British Braodcasting Corporation (BBC), the forces were at the firing range, receiving training on machine-gun use from American special forces.

The exercises, according to BBC were taking place in Mao, on the edge of the Sahara. The soldiers were seen queuing to lie down on a piece of cardboard, load the weapon and aim at a target around 150 metres away.

“The shooting session is taking place in western Chad, in a section of the Sahel region that skirts the southern edges of the Sahara Desert. It is part of Operation Flintlock, an annual counter-terrorism exercise, led by the United States and held with their Nato allies in West Africa.

“The troops may be going straight into battle as soon as the training, which is the 10th edition in the series, is over. Although Chad has played an important role in the recent successes of the military over the sect, Zakaria Ngobongue, a Brigadier-General, said intelligence still needed to be strengthened,” it said.

“Our biggest challenge is intelligence to allow us to fight,” Ngobongue said, adding “our means may be limited, we have to make do with our weaknesses,  but if our western partners are supporting us and accompanying us, I am sure that we will put an end to Boko Haram.”

This support by western partners is what Tom Copinger-Symes, a British brigadier, said would keep coming. “We are in a phase now of persistent engagement and a regular rhythm of involvement with our partners, but keeping our footprint light, rather than just an episodic burst and then just go away again.

“A light footprint can mean everything from low-level training, tactics, to coordination, to intelligence fusion and really how to work together within a coalition,” he said.

 After Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS on Saturday, James Linder, a Major-General and commander of US special operations command, called for stronger regional cooperation to combat extremist groups.

“We can’t fight these enemies alone,” Linder said, adding “one man can’t do it alone, one nation can’t do it alone. We have to work together.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian special forces run past Chadian troops in a hostage rescue exercise at the end of the Flintlock exercise in Mao, Chad, Saturday, March 7.

The United States military and its Western partners conduct this training annually and set up plans long before Boko Haram began attacking its neighbours— Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The escalation, in a joint military campaign against the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, came just weeks before Nigerians head for the polls, an election many feared would turn violent and after scores of attacks by the militants on neighbouring countries which have pledged to help Nigeria defeat the extremists.

Chadian Brigadier-General Zakaria Ngobongue, said on Monday that his soldiers, alongside troops from Niger, had entered Nigeria.

He declined to give details about the ongoing operation.
“Already, Chadian forces had crossed into the North-Eastern Nigeria from Cameroon to fight the jihadis.

Describing the stepped-up military activity, Nigerian military spokesperson, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, said on Sunday night that “there were some pre-emptive manoeuvres along an axis in the theatre. Nigerian forces were also involved

Tribune Newspaper