Morocco cancels African Lion exercise
Written by defenceWeb/Stars & Stripes, Thursday, 18 April 2013
African Lion 2013 was set to begin yesterday but was cancelled by Morocco on Tuesday. Many of the 1 400 US servicemen and 900 Moroccan troops, together with foreign observers, were already in place.
“We’re in the process of redeploying,” said Captain Lauren Schulz, a Marine Corps spokeswoman. “African Lion 13 has been suspended,” she told Stars & Stripes.
US Africa Command (Africom) declined to cite a reason for the change, referring questions to the Moroccan government. But an Associated Press report said the event was cancelled due to Moroccan anger with the Obama administration over its support for having the U.N. monitor human rights in a territorial dispute over the territory of Western Sahara.
Morocco occupied the desert region in 1976 unleashing a decades-long guerrilla struggle by the indigenous Polisario Front group, which ended with a U.N. cease-fire in 1991. Since then talks between the two sides have remained stalemated, with Polisario insisting on an independence referendum and Morocco proposing autonomy for the mineral-rich former Spanish colony.
Earlier this month, the Military Sealift Command’s USNS Dahl, a cargo transport vessel, pulled into a Moroccan port to deliver more than 250 short tons of equipment for the exercise. Marines disembarked everything from 7-ton trucks, armored Humvees and howitzers to Meals, Ready to Eat. Now, all that gear must be reloaded, Stars & Stripes reports.
“We had a plan to redeploy, so we just accelerated the timeline,” Schulz said.
In addition to the 1,400 U.S. troops, about 900 Royal Moroccan Armed Forces were to take part in military drills focused on a wide range of activities. Months in the planning, Africa Lion involves live-fire and manoeuvring exercises, amphibious operations and aerial refuelling and low-level flight training.
Observers from Germany and 12 other European and African countries also were slated to attend.
Marines managed to get in some training with their Moroccan partners during the initial offloading phase of the exercise, which was to formally commence on Wednesday, Schulz said.
While African Lion 13 is cancelled, the longstanding exercises will likely continue in the future, according to Africom officials.
“The Moroccan government has deferred the exercise to a later date,” said Tom Saunders, an Africom spokesman, in a statement. “The US and Moroccan militaries remain long-standing partners. We hope to continue to build our partnership through future military engagements with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, as directed by U.S. Africa Command and the United States Government.”to have one of the more capable military forces in Africa", Elliott said.
Top stories this week
Airbus Defence and Space deploys LTE-based mobile CCTV solution as part of the Singapore Safe City Test Bed
by Cassidian, 22 April 2014
Airbus Defence and Space has deployed a vehicle-mounted closed circuit television solution as part of the project.
Airbus Defence and Space together with Sapura to establish long-term partnership in the field of C4ISR
by Cassidian, 17 April 2014
The companies have signed a collaboration agreement to establish a long-term co-operation in the field of C4ISR
Airbus Defence and Space presents the latest generation of electronic protection systems
by Cassidian, 16 April 2014
Airbus Defence and Space has presented new developments for the protection of troops operating in the world's hot spots.