Ships and aircraft of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) and the Royal Moroccan navy and air force commenced exercise Lightning Handshake 2018on 23 April.
The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Moroccan navies across multiple warfare areas including communications, network link, anti-submarine warfare, close air support and naval surface fire support, increasing the ability of U.S. and Moroccan maritime forces to work together to address security concerns and increase stability in the region, the US military said.
“The friendship between Morocco and the United States is strong and enduring,” said Adm. James G. Foggo, III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “We share a common interest in ensuring security and safety on the waters surrounding Africa, and cooperation with our Moroccan partners is critical for prosperity and for regional security and stability.”
In 1777, Morocco was the first country to formally recognize the United States as a sovereign nation. Lightning Handshake offers an opportunity to continue fostering the long-standing trust between the U.S. and Moroccan forces by promoting mutual understanding and cooperation.
“Lightning Handshake is an opportunity for us to improve our interoperability and strengthen the enduring relationship we enjoy with our Moroccan partners,” said Rear Adm. Gene Black, commander of Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. “We’re looking forward to operating alongside our Moroccan counterparts, sharing our warfighting expertise and increasing our capacity to work towards common goals.”
Exercise Lightning Handshake provides U.S. and Moroccan maritime and aviation forces the opportunity to work together, exchange information and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in order to promote maritime safety and security in the region. Among the participants in the exercise are the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), Royal Moroccan Navy frigate Mohammed VI, and several fighter squadrons from Carrier Air Wing One (CVW 1) and the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
The HSTCSG deployed April 11 as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe. Additionally, HSTCSG units will work alongside allied and partner maritime forces, focusing on theater security cooperation efforts, which help to further regional stability. With the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as the flagship, the deploying strike group includes staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG 8), Destroyer Squadron Two Eight (DESRON 28) and Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1); as well as Sachsen-class German frigate FGS Hessen (F 221).