African Lion 21 concludes after honing multinational operations on land, in air, over sea

African Lion, U.S. Africa Command‘s premier joint annual exercise, successfully wrapped up its 17th iteration in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, June 18. Military leaders from the U.S., Africa, Europe and NATO partners attended the closing ceremony in Tan Tan, Morocco, one of the exercise training locations.

“I would like to thank our Moroccan, Senegalese and Tunisian partners for hosting African Lion in their respective countries. This year’s African Lion was the largest and most complex we have had, to date,” said Maj. Gen. Rohling, Southern European Task Force Africa commander. “Close to 8,000 personnel from eight different countries participated in this exercise, and another fifteen (countries) observed the training with the potential to join for African Lion 22.”

Rohling’s Moroccan counterpart, Southern Zone commander Lt. Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, also expressed his gratitude for the successful accomplishment of the exercise objectives.

“Thanks to its multi-domain, multi-component and multi-national character, African Lion 2021 employed a wide array of mission capabilities in order to strengthen interoperability between partner nations and enhance the aptitude to conduct in-theater operations, particularly through this year’s engagement of 8,000 personnel, both men and women, including Americans and other multinationals,” El Farouk said.

The Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission in Morocco, David Greene, also attended the closing ceremony of exercise African Lion.

“We are thrilled to welcome African Lion, the largest military exercise in Africa, back to Morocco after a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19. The exercise is a critical component of the close, strategic partnership between Morocco and the United States,” Greene said.

African Lion 21 culminated with a combined arms live-fire exercise displaying capabilities of the total force June 18 in Tan Tan.

“The 17th iteration of exercise African Lion 2021 has just wrapped up, and it has been a great success at all levels by having fulfilled all its objectives,” said Inspector General of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces Abdelfattah Louarak. “I am confident that this exercise will succeed in promoting the values of peace and solidarity among the nations, and is an essential milestone in the path towards peace and solidarity in the region and in Africa.”

Exercise highlights

On June 9, members of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted an airborne Joint Forcible Entry near the Grier Lobouihi training complex in Morocco. They integrated with Special Operations Forces from the 19th Special Forces Group and the 41st Fires Brigade to support pre-infiltration suppressive fires from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

U.S. Air Forces Africa personnel and assets participated at Moroccan training areas in Kenitra, Ben Guerir, Marrakech, Grier Labouihi and Tan Tan. Events included C-130 Hercules crew training alongside Moroccan counterparts to hone airdrop, airlift and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. Additionally, F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots flew alongside Moroccan fighters performing close air support missions to sharpen essential skills with KC-135 Stratotanker crews providing aerial refueling support for the combined fighter operations.

The maritime portion of the exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, included a naval gunfire exercise, multiple sea-based maneuvers, and crisis response capabilities.

“Hershel “Woody” Williams and her crew are proud to be a part of this important exercise as we do our part to help build a better-recognized maritime picture and achieve improved maritime domain awareness so our partners have timely information they need to make decisions that impact safety and security,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Concannon, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) commanding officer.

The Georgia National Guard, with 640 personnel and 200 pieces of equipment deployed to support the exercise, concluded the training event with a combined live-fire exercise, June 18. Following a show of force by U.S. Air Force and Moroccan fighters and aircraft, Georgia National Guard and Moroccan artillery pummeled targets with high explosive rounds.

“These combined arms live-fires give our Soldiers the big picture,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Avera, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry battalion commander. “It teaches them how to integrate with multinational partners, but also with other arms like artillery and armor. When they see the bigger picture like that, it gives them better understanding.”

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency trained with the Senegalese and Moroccans to demonstrate proficiency during a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear training exercise at the port in Agadir, Morocco.

Finally, U.S. and Moroccan service members provided medical care to Moroccan citizens at the Military Medical Surgical Field Hospital in Tafraoute, Morocco. The humanitarian assistance event included a field hospital that treated more than 8,000 patients for more than 23,000 procedures in 10 days.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kimberly Hegeman, a nurse with the 151st Medical Group, gives a sticker to a child visiting the pediatric section of the military field hospital on June 7, 2021 in Tafraoute, Morocco during exercise African Lion 2021. African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. AL21 is a multi-domain, null-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Annie Edwards)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kimberly Hegeman, a nurse with the 151st Medical Group, gives a sticker to a child visiting the pediatric section of the military field hospital on June 7, 2021 in Tafraoute, Morocco during exercise African Lion 2021. African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command’s largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. AL21 is a multi-domain, null-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Annie Edwards)

A Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft refuels with a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over Morocco during exercise African Lion 2021, June 15, 2021. African Lion is U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Barron)

A Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft refuels with a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over Morocco during exercise African Lion 2021, June 15, 2021. African Lion is U.S. Africa Command’s largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Barron) African Lion is U.S. Africa Command’s largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, 7-18 June. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. African Lion is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multi-national exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Barron)

U.S. Army Airborne paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team board a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during exercise African Lion 21, June 18, 2021. Airmen train to enhance their ability to rapidly deploy to and operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support, ensuring they are postured to provide lethal combat power across the spectrum of military operations. African Lion is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

U.S. Army Airborne paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team board a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during exercise African Lion 21, June 18, 2021. Airmen train to enhance their ability to rapidly deploy to and operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support, ensuring they are postured to provide lethal combat power across the spectrum of military operations. African Lion is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron sits on the flightline near Moroccan F-16s during an Agile Combat Employment event during exercise African Lion 21 on Guelmim Air Base, Morocco, June 16,  2021. ACE events prepare U.S. forces in Africa to protect and defend partners and generate lethal combat air power should deterrence fail. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron sits on the flightline near Moroccan F-16s during an Agile Combat Employment event during exercise African Lion 21 on Guelmim Air Base, Morocco, June 16, 2021. ACE events prepare U.S. forces in Africa to protect and defend partners and generate lethal combat air power should deterrence fail. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Royal Moroccan Air Force AE team members share tactics, techniques and procedures during a multinational casualty evacuation training exercise during exercise African Lion 21, June 16, 2021. African Lion maintains combat readiness by ensuring the ability to provide superior airpower capabilities in support of U.S. and partner interests in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Royal Moroccan Air Force AE team members share tactics, techniques and procedures during a multinational casualty evacuation training exercise during exercise African Lion 21, June 16, 2021. African Lion maintains combat readiness by ensuring the ability to provide superior airpower capabilities in support of U.S. and partner interests in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

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