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Program Brings Together Northwest Africa Leaders and Partners

Special Operations Command Africa, Office of Public Affairs

STUTTGART, Germany, Apr 20, 2012 — - Representatives from African partner nations Ghana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal participated in the Special Operations Command Africa- coordinated 2012 Flintlock Senior Leader Symposium hosted at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, in Accra, Ghana from March 24 through March 30, 2012.

The senior-level strategic symposium, which included participants from Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States, was designed to synchronize northwest African efforts to address terrorism throughout the region.

"One of our greatest lessons during this counter-terrorism symposium is that a truly effective campaign against insecurity must involve partnerships between civilian and military actors in the execution of every operation," said Colonel Kelly Alexander, Commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans-Sahara.

This symposium sought to foster unique collaboration and coordination among participants while improving information sharing across the Trans-Sahara region. Attendees included representatives from not only military branches, but included police forces, civilian ministries and agencies involved in security operations.

"This symposium is a unique opportunity to bring together senior military and civilian officers in an interactive session that provides them with the tools to reflect and develop strategies on how to engage in multinational cooperation," said Major General (Retired) Mastin Robeson, the symposium senior military mentor. "It provides an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the dangers of violent extremist organizations and their tactics."

Participants initially focused on understanding regional threats, including the effects of Libyan regime change across the region; and violent extremist organizations' tactics, techniques, and technologies, leadership, and ideologies. As the symposium progressed, they were able to focus on developing joint civil/military approaches and targeted messaging campaigns to counter terrorist threats.

As a preventative program, this event addressed specific threats to national and sub-regional security across the Trans-Sahara: terrorism, trafficking in humans, weapons, drugs, and religious extremism. Leading African civil-military thinkers, practitioners from security focused sub-regional organizations, and military mentors led participants in identifying interagency and regional mechanisms to counter these threats.

To date, symposiums like these have brought together more than 800 west African armed forces and civilian security sector leaders through its country-specific, regional, senior Leader, and Flintlock cooperation programs, which focus on common threats and approaches to stability, governance, and development in west and north Africa.

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