US, Moroccan forces conduct “African lion”


Approximately 36 military policemen from Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division, participated in non-lethal weapons training and weapons familiarization fires earlier this month with about 30 members of the Royal Moroccan Army in Tifnit, Morocco as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009.

The exercise began April 28 and is scheduled to conclude June 4 and involves the 8th, 10th and 11th Battalions of the Brigade Infantry Mobile, US Marine Corps Forces Africa reports.

The non-lethal weapons training and weapons familiarisation fires are a part of the peacekeeping operations training package that is being conducted during AFRICAN LION.

The training package also includes mounted and dismounted patrols, vehicle and personnel searches, establishing control points, and hand-to-hand combat training, which is scheduled later in the week.

The peacekeeping operations training between U.S. forces and the Moroccan military is an opportunity for the MP Marines to train and work with foreign militaries, according to Marine Staff Sergeant Daniel P. Botty. The exercise provides the US an opportunity to share tactics, techniques, and procedures and, in turn, promotes interoperability between US and Moroccan forces.
“It’s good to know that we can go into another country and trust the gun on our left and our right because we’ve worked with them before,” said Botty. “We did our riot control training with them last year and they worked just as hard as we did. So we know if we had to go into a mob situation (with them), we’d be able to trust those in our right flanks or our left flanks.”

During the non-lethal weapons training, US and Moroccan forces experienced a TASER (Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle) orientation and demonstration. Afterward, these service members were given the opportunity to feel a 5-second blast of about 50 000 volts–some for the first time–from the TASER probe that was manually attached to their boot.

On the next day, all service members were given the opportunity to practice firing rounds of ammunition.

Botty, on his second consecutive AFRICA LION, has not only noticed a progression in the interoperability between the two nations but he has also noted an increase in camaraderie.
“The best way to break the barriers is to make friends. Interact with them. Find out which ones can help you,” said Corporal Anthony S. Kiehl, an MP with 4th Marine Division. “Some of them speak a little English…some of us speak a little Arabic and French. You make friends, and by making friends you get comfortable.”

Kiehl admitted it wasn’t easy at first. “When we first got here they were kind of quiet, kind of distant, but as soon as we did our first drill together, they realized we’re the same people they are, just different countries,” said Kiehl.

AFRICAN LION is an annually scheduled, combined US-Moroccan exercise that includes various types of military training including command post, live-fire training, peacekeeping operations, aerial refueling / low level flight training as well as a medical, dental, and veterinarian assistance projects to run concurrent with the training.