Ambassador Palmer’s Remarks
Exercise Flintlock 2023 – Demonstration
Sogakope Resort, Volta River
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Good morning! To our distinguished international partners, Akwaaba and to our gracious hosts, the Ghana Armed Forces, Medaase. I’m looking forward to today’s activities. After a year of planning and two weeks of activity by over 1,400 combined forces, the U.S. Special Operations Command – Africa and Ghana Armed Forces will demonstrate some of the objectives met under Exercise FLINTLOCK 2023.
Before the demonstration begins, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this enormous effort. As the previous speakers have noted, this is a long-running multinational effort dating back to 2005. Our commitment to security in the region is long-term, but today’s exercise is also very timely, as we don’t have to look very far to see security threats from violent extremism in the Sahel.
We know security concerns cannot be fully addressed through military force. If we want lasting solutions, tackling the root causes of conflict – economic, inter and intra communal schisms, weak institutions, and competition over resources – we have to address those threats as well. Improved security conditions create the stability required to attract foreign investment and encourage economic growth. Especially important as Ghana finds itself in an economic crisis. Improving governance and respect for human rights, promoting the rule of law and accountability, and providing services and economic opportunities to populations are not just the right things to do; they are security imperatives.
The U.S. continues to support bilateral and regional capacity building initiatives to counter the threat of terrorism and violent extremism with partners in civil society, defense, law enforcement, and the judicial systems.
During the FLINTLOCK exercise, we’ve worked together to build trust between at-risk communities and the armed forces through medical outreach events. At mobile clinics in two regions, we’re providing medical screenings and basic health care. It’s that kind of work that builds trust and connection that can improve security and relations with at-risk communities.
We continue to support African institutions and efforts to resolve conflict, promote peace, and restore and strengthen democracy and democratic institutions across the continent, and of course, in Ghana. We applaud President Akufo-Addo’s efforts to expand the Accra Initiative’s work. The AI’s regional approach is the type of vision that is needed for Coastal West Africa and the Sahel. The complex problems in the region require African-led and African-sourced solutions.
Through FLINTLOCK and our decades of military-to-military cooperation, we’ve demonstrated that our bilateral relationship is strong, productive, and mutually beneficial. Our approach brings to bear the diplomatic, development, and security tools of the U.S. government in collaboration with our partners for a more peaceful and prosperous region.
Your attendance here today further demonstrates that Ghana’s efforts to strengthen regional security are backed by international and regional partners who stand side-by-side with our African Partners to push back on threats against our common values and democratic norms. Thanks for coming to this real-world demonstration of our strong, cooperative, and longstanding partnership.