The United States Marine Corps has deployed its “Few and Proud” to Morocco to take part in African Lion 2012, a joint and combined annual iteration sponsored by the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff (CJCS), scheduled by US Africa Command (AFRICOM), executed by Marine Force Africa (MARFORAF), and hosted by Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (RAF). The Marine contingent is comprised of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (special ops capable) (MEU(SOC)) and the 14th Marines, a reserve unit from Fort Worth, Texas. The exercise will serve to promote military cooperation, reinforce interoperability, and consolidate the two nations’ counter-terrorism strategy and merge their vision of regional stability.
African Lion 12 is taking place in Cap Draa and neighboring regions. According to Its Operation Order (OPORD) and Concept of Operation (CONOP), it will consist of a Command and Control (C2) exercise, Field Training Exercise (FTX), Aviation Training Exercise (ATX) provided by an Air Force component, and Public Affairs training. Peace Keeping Operations Training (PKO) will be provided by a Military Police detachment. Utah Army National Guard civil affairs team with its medical, dental, and veterinary capabilities will engage in Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) in Morocco’s remote villages while the US Navy Medical Corps will participate in Medical Exchange and Disaster Response. An Intelligence Capacity Building Seminar focused on counter-terrorism (CT) and force protection (FP) is also scheduled.
My analysis of RAF Trends that have emerged in recent years clearly indicate that the Moroccan military leadership has shifted its strategy to focus on developing core naval and air competencies and attaining regional sea and air superiority; its acquisition climbed 400% in the past five years. With regard to African Lion, RAF leadership would like the training to enable it to achieve rapid and decisive air mobility, to enhance the deployment and sustainment of forces and the ability to launch precise and selective force against targets while minimizing risk. It is most likely that in the next few years, General Abdelaziz Bennani, Inspector General of the RAF and Commander of the southern zone, will seek to expand the scope of African Lion by emphasizing to AFRICOM Commander General Ham the RAF’s need to interface with an integrated and synchronized DoD combined forces capabilities and requesting the inclusion of more advanced air mobility/assault training and equipment. Considering the fact that African Lion is a yearly iteration, US Navy Seabees have most likely been engaged in Exercise Related Construction in the Tan Tan region to support US Forces ongoing and future operations.
The end state of African Lion 12 is to strengthen security cooperation and improve military engagement and deterrence. It will allow RAF and the US Marines to share tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and establish a focused strategic operational support template and a more responsive tactical information exchange process that will deliver timely, relevant, and accurate intelligence on terrorist trends that might affect regional stability.
A. T. B. © 2012