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Exercise Sharpens Edge, Coordination Between U.S., Moroccan Forces
Through a series of simulated scenarios, a combined infantry regiment of U.S. and Moroccan forces recently tested their interoperability capabilities in Tifnit, Morocco as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009. <br /> <br />AFRICAN LION is an
TIFNIT, Morocco - Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. Finan (left), commanding officer, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, discusses tactics of maneuver with his Moroccan counterpart during the command post exercise as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. The exercise involved about 50 service members: 25 from the U.S. Marine Corps and 25 from Morocco&#39;s Forces Armee Royale. The annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise is designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation&#39;s tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 2: TIFNIT, Morocco - Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. Finan (left), commanding officer, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, discusses tactics of maneuver with his Moroccan counterpart during the command post exercise as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. The exercise involved about 50 service members: 25 from the U.S. Marine Corps and 25 from Morocco's Forces Armee Royale. The annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise is designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana) Download full-resolution version
TIFNIT, Morocco - A U.S. Marine observes the simulated battlefield during the command post phase of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. U.S. Marines and their Moroccans counterparts exercised their interoperability through a simulator known as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Tactical Warfare Simulation, the Marine Corps' primary aggregate model to train staff. AFRICAN LION is an annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 2: TIFNIT, Morocco - A U.S. Marine observes the simulated battlefield during the command post phase of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. U.S. Marines and their Moroccans counterparts exercised their interoperability through a simulator known as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Tactical Warfare Simulation, the Marine Corps' primary aggregate model to train staff. AFRICAN LION is an annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana) Download full-resolution version
TIFNIT, Morocco - Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. Finan (left), commanding officer, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, discusses tactics of maneuver with his Moroccan counterpart during the command post exercise as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. The exercise involved about 50 service members: 25 from the U.S. Marine Corps and 25 from Morocco&#39;s Forces Armee Royale. The annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise is designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation&#39;s tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana)
TIFNIT, Morocco - A U.S. Marine observes the simulated battlefield during the command post phase of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009 on May 11, 2009. U.S. Marines and their Moroccans counterparts exercised their interoperability through a simulator known as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Tactical Warfare Simulation, the Marine Corps' primary aggregate model to train staff. AFRICAN LION is an annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques and procedures and is scheduled to run until June 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sergeant Grady T. Fontana)
Through a series of simulated scenarios, a combined infantry regiment of U.S. and Moroccan forces recently tested their interoperability capabilities in Tifnit, Morocco as part of Exercise AFRICAN LION 2009.

AFRICAN LION is an annually-scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques, and procedures.

"We are here as the notional infantry regiment, and we're here to interact with our Moroccan counterparts as we go through the planning process, mission analysis, course of action development, and then [we] actually go through a simulation exercise," said Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. Finan, commanding officer, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division.

The combined infantry regiment exercised interoperability through a simulator known as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Tactical Warfare Simulation (MTWS), and it's the Marine Corps' primary aggregate model to train staff, according to Art R. Aragon, modeling and simulation planner, Marine Corps Forces, Africa.

"Instead of getting a whole regiment into the field, we simulate the regiment," said Aragon, a former Marine Corps captain. "We simulate the forces, as well as the enemy, and we script the scenarios such that we focus on specific training objectives that the regiment wants to accomplish, and we do that in this simulated battlefield."

The command post exercise involved about 50 service members who were divided between the unit operations center, response cells, and control tent.

The operations center, the command post for the regiment, was led equally by Finan and his Moroccan counterpart and they commanded a simulated U.S. Marine Corps infantry battalion, a Moroccan infantry battalion, and a combined U.S.-Moroccan infantry battalion, according to Finan.

"The Moroccans are very detailed in their planning," said Finan. "They have a very thorough thought process, and I've been wonderfully pleased with the fact that they go through a process that's quite like ours."

The staff exercised a basic counter-insurgency scenario that included infantry conflicts and humanitarian activities. "There may be a humanitarian crisis reported over the network, there may be a heavy loss of civilian life," said Finan. Those are the types of scenarios the United States and Moroccans had to collaborate on.

According to Aragon, the simulation doesn't necessarily garnish a winner or loser; all decisions are evaluated by people, not a computer.

"It's called a man-in-the-loop simulation; it requires human decisions and it doesn't grade or evaluate the human decision--humans do, we do, the Moroccan officers and Marines who are sitting in the exercise control room, they do." said Aragon. "They will eventually evaluate the actions of the training audience--the computer doesn't. All the computer does is provide us with a realistic environment to move friendly forces and enemy forces."

"The scenarios have an emphasis on the combined [Moroccan-U.S.] battalion," said Finan. "That's the one we want to focus on. ... We go through this now, so if we ever had to [operate combined] we'll already have some of those lessons learned from this exercise."

Finan said it's important that U.S. forces work with foreign militaries. "The two conflicts that we're presently involved in, Iraq and Afghanistan, require [combined forces]," said Finan. If we want to be good at it, and effective at it, and successful at it, we try to practice as much as possible."

"If the 4th CEB is called upon to Afghanistan, we feel that this exercise will play a part in sharpening our edges and refining our skills," said Finan. "This, quite frankly, is how it's going to be done when you get to those countries."

Finan was notably proud of his staff of officers and deemed the exercise a success. However, he was equally impressed and thankful for the unrelenting effort put forth by the enlisted Marines of 4th CEB and the Inspector-Instructor staff.

AFRICAN LION is an annually scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise that includes various types of military training including command post, live-fire training, peacekeeping operations, aerial refueling / low level flight training as well as a medical, dental, and veterinarian assistance projects to run concurrent with the training. The exercise is scheduled to run until June 4.
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