In today’s security environment, the ability to quickly place military personnel on a location anywhere on the globe is at a premium. In order to stay ready for that task, the U.S. Marines of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force conducted a training mission in Tifnit, Morocco, April 3, 2014.
Their mission was executed in conjunction with African Lion 14, a combined-joint exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves approximately 150 soldiers of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, 350 U.S. servicemembers and additional military personnel from European and African partner nations.
The Marines flew approximately 500 nautical miles in MV-22B tiltrotor Ospreys from Moron Air Base, Spain, to their landing zone in Tifnit. Once they arrived, a platoon of Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which is the ground combat element for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, quickly established security of the area.
“Our task was to provide assault support for the tactical insertion of the platoon from the GCE into a simulated U.S. compound in Morocco in order to safeguard U.S. citizens and government property,” said Capt. Kyle Stuart, the flight lead for the African Lion 14 mission.
This training focused on the primary mission for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, which is to provide a highly responsive and mobile force in the defense of lives and defense of Department of State identified high risk facilities.
While the Marines are always ready for action, the success of a mission can often be determined by the amount of real-world planning and preparation that is conducted beforehand. For African Lion, there were a lot of details which needed to be established in order to make the mission go smoothly and safely.
“We had a pilot in each aircraft that was able to participate in one of the planning conferences that took place in Morocco,” said Stuart. “I had a chance to actually walk the landing zone back in December.”
Training opportunities like this are critical to maintaining and improving the tactics and skills of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response personnel.
“If you look at African Lion, even though the distance wasn’t as far as some of our other flights, it was in fact a full mission. We had one KC-130 and two MV-22’s fully loaded with a GCE of Marines on board,” said Stuart. “This was a great chance for us to team up with the GCE and fully rehearse a full mission into a foreign country’s training compound in a confined area and then have to execute a mission on the deck.”
SP-MAGTF Crisis Response's flight and insert also demonstrated the rapid-response capability to multinational observers from 14 different countries during the "Observer Program" of African Lion 14. The countries included: Mauritania, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Senegal, Poland, Turkey, Italy and France.