Tunisia upgrading main military training facility

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The Tunisian Armed Forces are upgrading their primary training area at Ben Ghilouf with support from the United States.

The upgrade is in its third phase. It involves the construction of a new life support area, including seven barracks designed to house 630 people, and two mess halls capable of accommodating 430 people at a time.

Earlier stages of the renovation included upgrading a training range, a new range observation tower, a canopy for tactical briefings and a helicopter landing zone. A new range operations center is designed to improve coordination and management of military exercises. Future upgrades will include more barracks and an urban combat area. The upgrades are intended to improve living conditions for troops on extended training assignments. The US Navy is supporting the project with construction work.

Ben Ghilouf is the primary facility for Tunisian military exercises and has hosted multinational events. In February, US and Tunisian officials met in Tunis to review the two nations’ longstanding defense and security partnerships, including countering terrorist threats and areas for future cooperation.

“From the beginning of its existence as an independent country, the United States has enjoyed a close friendship with Tunisia and strong diplomatic ties,” said US Ambassador to Tunisia Joey Hood. “The benefits of over two centuries of US-Tunisian cooperation are clear when looking at our military security partnerships, which have grown tremendously in the past decade as Tunisia has transitioned to become a regional provider of security expertise, including through its support for U.N. peacekeeping operations.”

Tunisia’s military forces have had a high profile in 2024, with the Association of African Air Forces hosting the 2024 African Air Chiefs Symposium in Tunis, starting in late February. During the symposium, the air chiefs toured some of Tunisia’s training facilities, including El Aouina, Sfax and Gabes air bases. During the Gabes visit, they toured the Ben Ghilouf range.

In May, US Africa Command kicked off its largest annual combined exercise, African Lion, in Tunisia. The exercise brought together 8 000 personnel from more than 27 nations and included training in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.

Soldiers at the Ben Ghilouf training area practiced live-fire exercises such as mortar training with US troops and a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a first for Tunisia. The system is a light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a truck frame carrying six rockets.

Combined arms live-fire exercises showcased the effectiveness of intense training under extreme heat and harsh desert conditions, emphasizing joint and multinational force cooperation. African Lion’s final event in Tunisia had allied forces identify “enemy” four-by-four vehicles and an air defense weapon. Participants engaged and neutralized the threats.

Tunisia, Africa’s northernmost country, has committed to playing a larger role in regional security in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Security threats include political instability in neighboring Libya, illegal migration and terrorism.

Security threats over the years have forced Tunisia to upgrade its military’s budget, weapons, institutional capacity and political influence, according to a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Today, more than 150 000 active-duty personnel serve in its armed forces.

Written by Africa Defense Forum and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.