African Lion, US Africa Command’s premier joint annual exercise, successfully wrapped up its 17th iteration in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, on 18 June. Military leaders from the United States, African, European and NATO partners attended the closing ceremony held in one of the exercise training locations in Tan Tan, Morocco.
“I would like to thank our Moroccan, Senegalese and Tunisian partners for hosting African Lion in their respective countries. This year’s African Lion was the largest and most complex we have had, to date,” said Major General Rohling, Commander of the Southern European Task Force Africa. “Close to eight thousand personnel from eight different countries participated in this exercise, and another fifteen observed the training with the potential to join for African Lion 22.”
Rohling’s Moroccan counterpart, Southern Zone Commander Lieutenant General Belkhir El Farouk, also expressed his gratitude for the successful accomplishment of the exercise objectives.
“Thanks to its multi-domain, multi-component, and multi-national character, African Lion 2021 employed a wide array of mission capabilities in order to strengthen interoperability between partner nations, and enhance the aptitude to conduct in-theatre operations, particularly through this year’s engagement of 8 000 personnel, both men and women, including Americans and other multinationals,” said El Farouk.
The Chargé d’Affaires at the US Mission in Morocco, David Greene, also attended the closing ceremony of exercise African Lion.
“We are thrilled to welcome African Lion – the largest military exercise in Africa—back to Morocco after a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19. The exercise is a critical component of the close, strategic partnership between Morocco and the United States,” Greene said.
On 9 June, the US military’s 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment “The Rock,” of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted an Airborne Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) near the Grier Lobouihi training complex. They integrated with Special Operations Forces from the 19th Special Forces Group and HIMARs rocket launch systems from the 41st Fires Brigade to support pre-infiltration suppressive fires.
US Air Force assets and troops participated in the training locations of Kenitra, Ben Guerir, Marrakech, Grier Labouihi and Tan Tan, Morocco. C-130 Hercules trained alongside their Moroccan counterparts to hone airdrop, airlift and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. US Air Force F-16s flew alongside Moroccan fighters, performing close air support missions to sharpen essential skill sets. KC-135s provided aerial refuelling support for the combined fighter operations throughout the exercise. US Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTACs) trained Moroccan JTACs and supported airdrop operations.
African Lion 21 culminated with a combined arms live-fire exercise displaying capabilities of the total force on 18 June in Tan Tan. The exercise allowed the Georgia Army National Guard to deploy to an austere environment, employ mission capability, and strengthen interoperability, resulting in enhancement of readiness and lethality.
Additional training took place in Tifnit, where US special operations forces trained alongside their Moroccan counterparts, the US military said.
The Defence Threat Reduction Agency trained with the Senegalese and Moroccans at the port of Agadir through a CBRNE scenario.
As part of the maritime domain of the exercise, the Navy warship USS Hershel Woody Williams stopped at the port of Agadir to train alongside a Moroccan frigate.
In Tafraoute, the humanitarian assistance event included a field hospital that treated over 8 000 patients for more than 23 000 procedures in 10 days.
African Lion is US Africa Command’s largest, premier joint annual exercise. The training is focused on enhancing readiness for US and partner nation forces, the US military said.