Africa Defense Forum
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Exercise African Lion 22 Boosts Regional Cooperation

ADF STAFF

Regional security and collaboration are the focus for more than 7,500 participants from African nations, the United States and NATO countries who came together for exercise African Lion 2022.

Morocco is hosting the land, sea and air phases of the annual exercise, the 18th iteration. It’s U.S. Africa Command’s largest and oldest joint annual exercise on the continent.

Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, second-in-command of Morocco’s military, welcomed personnel from 20 countries, including 10 African countries, at the June 20th opening ceremony where he stated the goal of the exercise is to consolidate partnerships and facilitate decision-making.

“Security challenges force us to learn lessons from different situations, to converge approaches regarding the usefulness of joint exercises, to improve the integration of executives within multinational staffs, and to overcome the cultural, linguistic and procedural aspects for more synergistic cooperation,” he said.

Royal Moroccan Armed Forces take part in exercise African Lion in the Grier Labouihi region of southeastern Morocco on June 21, 2022. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“This exercise is therefore part of this approach, in perfect harmony with the aspirations of our countries and the needs of modern engagements, a boon to illustrate the high level of operational, technical and procedural interoperability, the integration of men, media synergy and above all, an objective evaluation of each situation to facilitate decision-making.”

African Lion 22 featured:

  • A joint task force command post exercise.
  • A combined arms live-fire exercise.
  • A maritime exercise.
  • An air exercise involving a U.S. C-130J Super Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker and B1-B bomber aircraft flying missions with the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
  • A field training exercise incorporating paratroopers.
  • A chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response exercise.
  • A humanitarian civic assistance program event.

Some African Lion 2022 exercise maneuvers also took place in Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia.

Before the military part of the exercise, there were academic courses on cybersecurity, legal forensics, medical planning, and how to evaluate the efficiency of joint military operations and techniques.

Military maneuvers in Morocco began on June 20 at the Royal Armed Forces air base in Kenitra, just north of the capital, Rabat, before moving south to the cities of Agadir, Benguerir, Taroudant, Tan Tan and the Western Sahara town of Mahbes.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In the stifling heat of Greir Labouihi on June 21, observers and media watched two artillery systems intermittently fire three-round bursts.

U.S.-made Moroccan howitzers with a range of 18 kilometers were first, followed by M142 high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS), which have a range of 80 kilometers.

“The large open area, the ability to conduct live-fires, the ability to conduct parachute training, the possibility to conduct desert training — for the United States Army, this is a great opportunity to train in an environment we’re not completely familiar with and with experts in this environment, that being the Moroccans,” U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, commander Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling told reporters.

Rohling has emphasized that the broad purpose of Exercise African Lion 2022 is to bolster interoperability among partner nations.

He said African Lion provides participating countries with opportunities to exchange experiences and reinforce military cooperation to guarantee security and regional stability.

That sentiment was echoed in Ghana, another participating country that has seen its role expand into hosting.

Before seeing his troops off to participate in African Lion 22, Ghanaian Maj. Gen. Thomas Oppong-Peprah said it is imperative to train with other armies to improve national and regional security and readiness.

“If we are internationalizing our training, then it is because we believe in the fact that modern threats cannot be fought by only one country,” he said, according to Ghana Peace Journal magazine. “It has to be by a concerted effort.”

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