Niamey — Up to 1,000 soldiers and army officials from 18 African countries began a joint military training exercise in Niger against terrorism in the Sahel region.
The joint military exercise dubbed "Flintlock" is being conducted in Niger's Agadez, Diffa and Tahoua regions between Feb. 20 and March 9.
The "Flintlock" exercise was initiated in 2005 with the objective of developing capacities of defense and security forces and promoting inter-state collaborations to protect the people of Sahel countries.
At the opening of the training session, Nigerien army chief Seini Garba hailed the holding of the Flintlock training to promote security in the Sahel region, a belt along the southern edge of the Sahara desert being made a haven for terrorism and cross-border crimes.
Gen. Garba said Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou had reaffirmed his support for the program to promote strategic partnerships and information sharing among the different armies.
The "Flintlock 2014" training program is being coordinated by the U.S. military and Nigerien Col. Lamine Mahamane.
The military training began just after the third council meeting of foreign ministers held in Niamey to discuss cooperation in war against terrorism and an African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahel-Saharan region.