September 13, 2007

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, looks at Flintlock 2007, a joint military exercise in the Malian capital of Bamako which wrapped up last Saturday and involved military personnel from the Unites States and thirteen African and European countries.

Noting the recently increased activity of hard core of the Algerian Islamist terrorist organization Salafist Group for Call and Combat (usually known by its French acronym GSPC), which last year “rebranded” itself as al-Qaeda’s local franchise by pledging its allegiance to Osama bin Laden and becoming “Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb,” the article notes:

The primary objective of the simulations run in [Flintlock 2007, a command post exercise] was to strengthen the capacity of the participants to plan and execute collaborative command, control, and communications systems in support of potential future humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, as well as counterterrorism operations. Given the arbitrary nature of borders and the weak organic bases for many African states—to say nothing of the notoriously unforgiving geophysical and meteorological conditions in the Sahel—these joint operations are absolutely essential.

Consequently, Dr. Pham concludes, “This is why proven full-spectrum counterterrorism efforts like [the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative] are now even more critical and why milestones like Flintlock 2007 should be applauded.”

To read the full text of Dr. Pham’s article, “Milestone in Partnership to Counter Terrorism in the Sahel,” click here.