Washington, DC, February 9, 2015 (MACP) — African Lion, the largest annual US joint military exercise in Africa, kicked off phase one of its 2015 operation on February 2, in Agadir, Morocco, where US, Moroccan, German, British, Tunisian, Mauritanian, and Senegalese troops participated in an intelligence-capacity building workshop. This week, the participants will create a Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) to prepare for a simulated international crisis.
The capacity building workshop, task force, and simulated crisis will focus on strengthening cooperation and operational proficiency among the participants to prepare for potential future crises in the region – as well as to prepare for the main phase of the exercise, a large scale operation to take place in Morocco in mid-May. Some 2,500 personnel from participating countries, including contingents from the Netherlands and Belgium, will participate in phase two. The CJTF will take them through a scenario that focuses on humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and rapid and stable deployment operations. Phase two of African Lion 15 will also include the joint Moroccan-US Air Force exercise “Majestic Eagle,” which will focus on aerial refueling and close air support training missions.
“The foundation of how our international community responds to a crisis in any region will be established during theater security cooperation exercises such as African Lion,” said Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, commander of the CJTF. “This exercise allows the U.S., allies and partner nations to strengthen our relationships with our Moroccan hosts and improve how we will work together in the future.”
African Lion is just one of the many ways the US and Morocco coordinate on security measures. Designated as a “major non-NATO ally,” Morocco is the only Maghreb country to be a member of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. During the US-Africa Leaders Summit in August 2014, the two countries signed a Framework for Cooperation on Training for Civilian Security Services “to develop mutual expertise in the areas of crisis management, border security, and terrorism investigations to strengthen regional counterterrorism capabilities and to deny space to terrorists and terrorist networks.” The framework also outlines steps to develop Moroccan training experts and then jointly train forces in partner countries in the Maghreb and Sahel – a clear sign that the US continues to recognize Morocco’s vital role in promoting stability and security in the region.
“Morocco has been a staunch ally of the US since 1777, and the US recognizes Morocco as a critical partner in a troubled region. Hosting African Lion is an integral part of Morocco’s commitment to cooperation on regional security efforts with the US, the European Union, and its neighbors in the Maghreb, Sahel, and sub-Saharan Africa,” said Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center Jordan Paul.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
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