Military leaders from the United States, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal will modify the size and scope of Exercise African Lion to minimize exposure of US and partner nation service members to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The safety and protection of all of our forces — US and partner nation — is a priority. Modifying the exercise still improves readiness while minimizing risk to protect both US and partner forces,” said Gen Stephen J Townsend, commander of US Africa Command. “While the scope of the exercise will adjust, our commitment to our African partners endures.”
Scheduled to start on 23 March, the exercise will now include only portions that do not require lodging of troops in close quarters. It will also include the academics portion that has already begun.
The decision to modify the size and scale of the exercise was made after several weeks of monitoring the COVID-19 situation and in close coordination with host nation military and government leaders.
“We’ve made tremendous gains in terms of our partnerships with the Moroccan, Tunisian and Senegalese forces, as well as our ability as a headquarters to forge a coalition across multiple countries, force components, national and international organizations. That experience alone makes our military stronger, and our countries more secure,” said Maj Gen Roger Cloutier, commanding general of US Army Africa, which executes the annual exercise.
While the scope and size of African Lion 2020 has changed, planning continues for the exercise in 2021, Africom said.