This past month marks the start of a new edition of the annual African Lion military exercises, a partner-led, U.S. enabled exercise executed across North and West Africa slated for next summer. This planning meeting, organized by the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) and the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), hosted military planners from Ghana, Italy, the Netherlands, Senegal and the United Kingdom to begin detailed planning for Exercise African Lion 24, Sept. 18-22.
This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the African Lion exercise series. What started as a bilateral exercise between the U.S. Marines and the Moroccan Army has grown every year to include three additional African host nations, multiple African and European partners and allies, and the entire U.S. joint and total force.
African Lion is U.S. Africa Command's premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Ghana, Senegal, and Tunisia from May to June 2024. Annually, more than 10,000 participants from 20 nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing interoperability with African partner nation forces.
“We are incredibly excited to convene this exercise alongside our partners across Africa and Europe for this 20th anniversary of African Lion,” said Lt. Col. Drew Schaub, U.S. AFRICOM Joint and Combined Exercise branch chief. “While this partner-led, U.S. enabled exercise has changed and grown over the years, the commitment to improving security cooperation between African nations and communication among all our partners is unwavering.”
The week-long planning meeting aims to identify training scenarios, logistical requirements and training objectives for all participants for next summer's multinational exercise. Based on the complexity and scale of this exercise, planning begins months before execution.
The exercise is a joint, all-domain, multi-component and multinational training event, employing a full array of mission capabilities to strengthen interoperability among participants and set the theater for strategic access. The annual exercise provides unmatched opportunities for participation and cooperation on the African continent.
A key element of the growth of African Lion over the past several years has been the inclusion of other North and West African nations as hosts of the exercise. This year, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia each host significant training events in their country, integrating U.S. units as well as other European and African partners into their training plans.
"As we have for the past three years, we are again ready to host African Lion in Ghana," said Ghana Army Brig. Gen. Frank Tei, Deputy Chief Staff Officer (DCSO) for Operations and Training, Army. “This exercise provides us the opportunity to work on a broad range of skills directly with the U.S. and our neighbors. We believe this coordination not only contributes to our security, but the broader security of our region.”
As a large-scale global exercise, African Lion demonstrates U.S. AFRICOM building and maintaining interoperability with our African and European partners to improve our ability to meet security-related challenges together. Over the next eight months, military and civilian planners will meet multiple times in each host nation to deliberately plan and refine the exercise.
SETAF-AF provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa a dedicated headquarters to synchronize Army activities in Africa and scalable crisis-response options in Africa and Europe.