CAP DRAA, Morocco --
Approximately 2,800 U.S. service members and members from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, Tunisian Armed Forces and Spanish La Infantería de Marina participated in the multi-national exercise African Lion 17 in Cap Draa, Morocco, April 19-28, 2017.
African Lion, an annual exercise that brings together many partner nations, was developed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures while demonstrating the strong bond between each nation’s military forces.
“The purpose of African Lion 17, especially for the field training exercise portion, is two-fold,” said Col. Morgan Mann, the commanding officer of 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. “Number one, so Marines can sustain and improve their core methods of offense, defense and amphibious operations. And, number two, to build interoperability with the Moroccans and the other multi-national partners at African Lion.”
For the duration of the exercise, Marines enhanced their operational prowess and knowledge by participating in direct and live-fire training exercises utilizing small arms weapons, medium and heavy machine guns as well as rockets and many other weapons systems.
“Through building a rapport and establishing relationships with other countries we’ve been conducting bilateral patrolling, tactical planning and amphibious operations that will enhance each country’s military force,” said Capt. Philip Kwan, commanding officer of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th MARDIV, MARFORRES.
Though African Lion 17 brought together multiple nations, it also challenged participants to work through difficulties with communications and logistics that arose without notice. Time and practice at exercises like African Lion helps Marines learn the tools and techniques to successfully adapt and take action when issues arise.
“Communications at an exercise like this is always a challenge,” said Mann. “The way we’ve been improving and sustaining those communications is through significant training. Marines who are less familiar with the systems were finding the duty experts and ensuring the after action reports showed the lessons learned were lessons remembered and followed for the next exercises.”
Along with Marines partaking in the annual exercise, U.S. Navy Corpsmen with 4th Medical Battalion also participated in African Lion 17.
By providing support and care during all aspects of training, Corpsmen took time to train Marines and other nations on how to properly care for each other should a corpsman not be present. Corpsmen were also trained by Marines in basic Marine Corps knowledge for their Fleet Marine Forces pins, to include information on programing radios and how to write a five paragraph order.
To showcase their capabilities, U.S. Navy corpsmen participated in multiple live mock-exercises with partner nation service members to show them the correct steps to execute should a service member receive a gunshot wound or other traumatic impact.
“We’re supporting the Marines by coming here and providing a medical facility to let them know that no matter the exercise they’re doing out in the field, they’ll be safe,” said HM2 Carlos Benares, a corpsman with 4th Medical Battalion. “If a Marine comes here and gets hurt or injured, they can be put through our entire medical system and be taken care of quickly and efficiently.”
The joint and combined exercise involves various types of training including a Combined Joint Task Force Command Post Exercise linked with intelligence capacity building workshops and a basic intelligence course, an aviation training exercise and a maritime/naval operations waterborne rehearsal. Promoting interoperability and mutual understanding of each country’s tactics, techniques and procedures enhances security capabilities and reinforces the bond between the U.S., African partner nations and allies.
“This exercise delivers excellent training, retention and keeps Marines excited about the Marine Corps,” said Mann. “So when they go back to their civilian employers they can share the stories of what they’ve done in Morocco, how they’ve helped the other nations involved and ultimately sustained their readiness for future operations.” (U.S. Marine Corps story by Cpl. Dallas Johnson)