During the maneuvers, which were attended by Major General Mohammed Berrid, Inspector General of FAR and Commander of the South Zone, and Army General Michael Langley, Commander of the US Africa Command “AFRICOM”, military units from both countries carried out maneuvers with F16 aircraft and B1B bombers.
Ground operations were also carried out, using Abrams tanks to fire artillery against minefields.
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.
He noted 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, affirmed that in accordance with the High Instructions of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Supreme Commander and Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), “we have attended today the culmination of the field training exercise that concludes the 19th edition of the African Lion 2023 exercise”.
On this occasion, he expressed his sincere thanks to the partners of the United States Africa Command (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, in particular, 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 ».
« We appreciate AFRICOM and the leadership in helping to bring all of this together, » he underlined.
« 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 had an opportunity to visit the humanitarian assistance center yesterday and was blown away. Again, over 80 of our Utah National Guard were there providing life -saving care to Moroccans, » added the US official, stressing that « the things that we’re learning, we learn far more from the Moroccans than I think they learned from us. Having them come to Utah, spend time in Utah is a value to us. Then the youth exchange that we do as well, young Moroccans coming to Utah and young Utahans coming to Morocco helps all of us be better ».
« 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” is a combined joint exercise organized each year by FAR and the US Armed Forces.
The exercise, which began 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, 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.