I’m just finishing up my time here in Chad, where I’ve spent the last few days observing the end of Flintlock 2017. This annual exercise is a critical part of US and allied counter extremism efforts in West Africa, as it provides a multinational platform to hone skills and strengthen relationships among Special Operations Forces tasked with defeating terror groups like Boko Haram, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Islamic State. This year, while centered in Chad, the Special Operations focused exercise took place across seven countries throughout West Africa. During the three-week event, some 1,800 military and civilian participants from 27 countries trained together to build shared awareness of both partner capabilities and extremist threats, and to take a comprehensive approach to building security and stability in the region. While some portions of the exercise focused on perfecting combat skills, there was also an emphasis placed on community outreach, human and animal healthcare, and governance. My colleague and Dep. Field Ops Director, Chris VanJohnson, put together this great video covering some of our support to Flintlock’s remote outstations. I was able to see a number of training events myself, including a land and water demonstration by the Chadian special forces, a casualty evacuation scenario, and a practical exercise conducted by newly trained criminal investigators. here. Chris VanJohnson just returned from remote central Chad, where he supported two community outreach events with US Special Operations teams. And, SoA also provided humanitarian assistance to orphanages and schools here in the capital, N’Djamena. All of these efforts were designed – in collaboration with US Special Operations Forces, the US Embassy, and their local partners – to strengthen Chadian society’s ability to withstand pressures from extremism. As I watched the closing ceremonies today, with flags of all the nations who participated waving in the midday heat, I reflected on the fact that this is exactly the approach required to combat extremism around the world. Strong, diverse teams of committed partners, each of whom brings unique skills, abilities, and resources to bear, represent the best way to end conflict and restore peace and stability. And, we’re proud to count you as part of this team. Isaac Eagan Ops Vice PresidentAnd, as we have in years past, Spirit of America provided a range of assistance to the exercise. Nicholette and Chris Clary supported the SoA-funded inaugural International Women’s Day Forum, an event you can learn more about
Isaac is a veteran of the Army National Guard with two tours in Iraq, in 2003-2004 and 2006-2007. After his last deployment during the Surge, he served as the OEF/OIF Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.