Moroccan-American air & ground military maneuvers mark end of African Lion 2023 exercise

Moroccan-American air & ground military maneuvers mark end of African Lion 2023 exercise

African Lion 2023 concluded with a series of air and ground war maneuvers on Friday in Tan-Tan, Morocco. The exercises involved coordinated air raids by Moroccan and American aircraft, along with land maneuvers simulating actual combat operations.

The closing ceremony commenced with a display by two Royal Air Force F-16 fighter jets, performing high-speed and low-altitude aerial maneuvers under the observation of Lieutenant General Mohamed Berrid, the new Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces, and Lieutenant General Michael Langley, the commander of the American military command in Africa, AFRICOM.

The highlight of the air sorties was the involvement of the American “B1B” strategic bomber aircraft, flying alongside the Moroccan F-16 squadrons. The B1B, renowned for its capability to carry various long-range weapons and conduct stealthy low-altitude flights, was deployed for the first time in the joint maneuvers of the African Lion.

Its primary role is to support ground advances of infantry and armored forces, a task demonstrated by Moroccan and American forces during the exercise.

The land maneuvers involved armored personnel carriers and advanced Abrams tanks from both Moroccan and US ground forces. These exercises simulated direct confrontations and encompassed tasks such as firing heavy artillery shells, precise targeting of enemy positions, and infantry maneuvers using armored vehicles.

Military engineering units were also part of the exercises, employing vehicles to open passages through barriers and destroy obstacles with explosives. These operations allowed partner units to advance safely and carry out attack and counter-attack missions.

In a statement to the press, Army General Michael Langley expressed his gratitude to Morocco, “host country and long-standing partner”, and to the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa “for running this event and this display of professionalism.”

Participation in the African Lion Exercise is therefore important for Africa. “It is a pinnacle exercise that sets the stage of our approach of building stability and partnerships across the continent of Africa,” he said, adding that it’s about ensuring that “our African partners could institutionalize their forces, increase interoperability.”

“So, we can address some of the challenges that they have in establishing security and stability,” added General Langley, recalling that African Lion was first launched actually in 2004. But when the Africom became a combat command, it took on a new flavor in 2008.

“All of our national security strategies call on Africom for a partnership-⁠centric approach,” he stressed, noting that Morocco and the United States have developed a capacity for partnership throughout history. “Since our independence, Morocco has been a partner of choice for the United States,” he said.

For his part, Youssef Guertoumi, Commander of the Draa military sector, said “we have attended today the culmination of the field training exercise that concludes the 19th edition of the African Lion 2023.”

He expressed his sincere thanks to the partners of AFRICOM, the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) and the UTAH National Guard, “for their constant support and assistance, which had led to the success of this exercise and which showcases once again the core values that we share to promote peace and security around the four corners of the globe, and particularly on our African continent.”

In this regard, he added, various programmed activities have been put in place to achieve a higher level of interoperability between forces, the standardization of tactics, techniques and procedures, and the consolidation of multi-domain capabilities.

Spencer Cox, Governor of the State of Utah, pointed out that over 600 Utah military personnel have been in Morocco for the past three weeks to take part in the exercise.

“This partnership has been going on for 20 years. We started just before African Lion,” he recalled, adding that “it was Utah and Morocco that started this training exercise together that has now become this incredible multinational operation.”

“To our friends in Morocco, we want you to know how important you are to the state of Utah and the United States,” he said, noting that “this partnership that we have is growing and it’s so much more than just this military exercise, although this military exercise is critical.”
« We truly believe in Utah that global security is about relationships. Peace and establishing peace is all about relationships, » said Cox, noting that « the relationships that we are establishing here are making the world a better and safer place. We’re proud of Utah’s role in African life and we look forward to continuing the years to come ».

African Lion, a combined joint exercise organized each year by FAR and the US Armed Forces, began this year on June 05 in several regions of the Kingdom – Agadir, Tan-Tan, Mehbes, Tiznit, Kenitra, Benguerir and Tifnit – with the participation of 6,000 military personnel representing 14 countries. The exercise is intended to be an annual event that helps consolidate Moroccan-American military cooperation and strengthen exchanges between the armed forces of different countries with a view to promoting security and stability in the region.


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