African Lion, U.S. Africa Command’s premier joint annual exercise, successfully wrapped up its 17th iteration in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal on June 18. Military leaders from the U.S., Africa, Europe and NATO partners attended the closing ceremony in Tan Tan, Morocco, one of the exercise training locations.
“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 Maj. Gen. Rohling, commander, Southern European Task Force Africa. “Close to 8,000 personnel from eight different countries participated in this exercise, and another fifteen [countries] observed the training with the potential to join for African Lion 22.”
Rohling’s Moroccan counterpart, Southern Zone Commander Lt. Gen. 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-theater 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 U.S. 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,” said Greene.
African Lion 21 culminated with a combined arms live-fire exercise displaying capabilities of the total force June 18, 2021, in Tan Tan.
“The 17th iteration of Exercise African Lion 2021 has just wrapped up, and it has been a great success at all levels, by having fulfilled all its objectives,” said Abdelfattah Louarak, Inspector General of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. “I am confident that this exercise will succeed in promoting the values of peace and solidarity among the nations, and is an essential milestone in the path towards peace and solidarity in the region and in Africa.”
On June 9 members of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted an airborne Joint Forcible Entry near the Grier Lobouihi training complex in Morocco. They integrated with Special Operations Forces (SOF) from the 19th Special Forces Group and the 41st Fires Brigade to support pre-infiltration suppressive fires from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
U.S. Air Forces Africa personnel and assets participated at Moroccan training areas in Kenitra, Ben Guerir, Marrakech, Grier Labouihi and Tan Tan. Events included C-130 crew training alongside Moroccan counterparts to hone airdrop, airlift and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. Additionally, F-16 pilots flew alongside Moroccan fighters performing close air support missions to sharpen essential skills with KC-135 crews providing aerial refueling support for the combined fighter operations.
The maritime portion of the exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, included a naval gunfire exercise, multiple sea-based maneuvers, and crisis response capabilities.
“Hershel “Woody” Williams and her crew are proud to be a part of this important exercise as we do our part to help build a better-recognized maritime picture and achieve improved maritime domain awareness so our partners have timely information they need to make decisions that impact safety and security,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Concannon, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams.
The Georgia National Guard, with 640 personnel and 200 pieces of equipment deployed to support the exercise, concluded the training event with a combined live-fire exercise June 18. Following a show of force by U.S. Air Force and Moroccan fighters and aircraft, Georgia National Guard and Moroccan artillery pummeled targets with high explosive rounds.
“These combined arms live-fires give our Soldiers the big picture,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Avera, battalion commander, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry. “It teaches them how to integrate with multinational partners, but also with other arms like artillery and armor. When they see the bigger picture like that, it gives them better understanding.”
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency trained with the Senegalese and Moroccans to demonstrate proficiency during a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear training exercise at the port in Agadir, Morocco.
Finally, U.S. and Moroccan service members provided medical care to Moroccan citizens at the Military Medical Surgical Field Hospital in Tafraoute, Morocco. The humanitarian assistance event included a field hospital that treated over 8,000 patients for more than 23,000 procedures in 10 days.