16 years after withdrawing its military forces from Equatorial Guinea, Spanish armed forces members are now present in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Nigeria. Spanish forces recently completed a three week multinational military exercise known as Flintlock 10 along with forces from other EU countries (France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands), the US, and 7 African countries. Flintlock 10 was conducted in coordination with the US military’s Africa Command, Africom. (If you are not familiar with the US Military’s Africa Command, a quick look at its “2009 Posture Statement” will give you a feel for its very very extensive activities within Africa.)
Spain’s decision to resume a military presence in Africa was identified in its Africa Plan (“el Plan África”), adopted in 2006, which was intended to provide “‘a comprehensive approach to relations with neighbouring continent,’ sa[id] one expert, ‘but [also to] respond[ ] to the urgent need to curb the wave at the source of illegal immigration.’” (Click here for the 2009Plan África.)
A joint maritime military exercise known as Exercise Phoenix Express 2010 began last week. This exercise includes training of the Moroccan and Senegalese military by US and Spanish military personnel. According to an Africom press release, Moroccan and Senegalese Maritime Interdiction Operations Teams are being trained on tactics, techniques, and procedures associated with Maritime Interdiction Operations. Last month Spanish and US naval forces were involved in similar training exercises off the coast of Senegal under Africom’s Africa Partnership Station.
The current exercise, according to Africom, includes a focus on maritime interdiction operations. Participating forces “will track and board suspect vessels carrying suspicious cargo, and Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Automated Identification Systems, along with MIOs like SARs and Visit, Board, Search and Seizures will be performed.”
Click here for El Pais article about Spain’s military’s return to Africa.
Click here for US Naval Forces Africa press release.