AGADIR, Morocco --
Marine Corps Forces Africa conducted the final planning conference for African Lion 13 at the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces southern headquarters facilities in Agadir, Morocco, Jan. 29 – Feb. 1.
AL-13 is a U.S. African Command-sponsored, MFA-led exercise that involves various types of training including command post, live-fire and maneuvering, peace-keeping operations, an intelligence capacity building seminar, amphibious operations, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects.
In preparation for AL-13, JTF Marines and sailors from 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, in cooperation with teams from U.S. Transportation Command, Marine Forces Africa, and II Marine Expeditionary Force, will conducted a large-scale offload of both a Marine prepositioned ship and a commercial shipping vessel at the Port of Agadir, in early April.
“This is a great opportunity to train reserve Marines and Sailors in executing offload operations,” Lt. Col. Peter Mahoney, officer-in-charge, for AL-13 Port Operations. “Many exercises involving MPF simply offload equipment, stage it, and then re-embark it. For AL-13, we will offload more than 200 vehicles and containers, conduct throughput to locations more 200 miles away, use the equipment, then retrograde and reconstitute the equipment aboard the ship, all within about a 24-day period. Rarely does an MLG get to flex and test its landing support and logistics muscles like this.”
Formerly a bi-lateral exercise between joint U.S. services and the Kingdom of Morocco Royal Armed Forces, African Lion is opening its doors internationally to military representatives from more than 14 different partner nations.
“In keeping with the guidance of General Ham (AFRICOM), the Embassy has invited a host of nations this year to expand African Lion's into a true multi-lateral exercise,” said U.S. Army Maj. Barrett McNabb, U.S. Embassy Rabat liaison officer. “The intent is to invite our partner nations from Europe and Africa to act as observers this year and expand to participation in the years ahead.”
Already the largest exercise for U.S. African Command on the continent and growing, this year Task Force African Lion commander Col. Roger Garay brings back his Marines and sailors from 14th Marine Regiment, out of Fort Worth, Texas, for their unit's third consecutive AL iteration. Col. Maj. Brahim Hassani is the lead planner for more than 900 Royal Moroccan Royal Armed Forces throughout the exercise.
With a wealth of knowledge working with African Lion, both Garay and Hassani, have brought an added dynamic to this year's exercise that plans to 'rocket' the exercise into history.
“Coming back for a third year has created a dynamic of continuity which has enabled us to take African Lion even further than ever,” said Garay. “This year the comfort level of both U.S. and Moroccan leadership has enabled our team to pursue events of greater complexity, namely the introduction of rockets.. The launching of HIMARS will take our U.S./Moroccan team to greater limits in terms of our coordination and interoperability.”
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, is the Marine Corps' premier artillery system, accurately engaging targets over great distances and under all weather conditions. With high volumes of lethal rocket and missile fire, the HIMARS can deliver precise strikes from more than 40 miles away.
More than 1,400 U.S. military personnel will arrive in April joining more than 900 Moroccan RAF in various regions of the Kingdom of Morocco to take part in the annual exercise, designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures.
Members of MFR's 4th Medical Battalion and 4th Dental Bn., will team up with the Utah National Guard Medical Command to provide medical, dental, pediatric and optometry care to thousands of Moroccans throughout the exercise.
“To not only exercise a fully operable trauma capability in a field environment and share medical exchanges with the FAR (Forces Armes Royales),” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Wilkinson, Task Force AL-13 medical planner, “but be able to give care to so many Moroccan citizens who don't have the ready access to the medical care they may need is a great challenge and honor.”
With the signing of the official minutes by Hassani and Garay, and leadership from the U.S. Embassy and MFA, all the African Lion 13 elements were lined up and ready to conduct the exercise.
“I am very excited to complete our final exercise conference. The Moroccan and U.S. planning has been superb on both sides of the house,” said an exuberant Col. Garay. “I feel like we have been ahead of the power curve the whole way this year in preparation and we are all ready to see African Lion 13 take military exercises with our partner nations to the next level!”
This year's multi-national African Lion 13 and its maritime offload, joint service exercise and HIMARS are scheduled to launch in April.