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U.S., Morocco plans fifth ‘African Lion’ exercise

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States is organizing a military
conference in Morocco.

U.S. African Command has been planning the final details for African
Lion 12 in Morocco. Officials said the annual security cooperation exercise,
comprised of 1,200 U.S. Marine Corps soldiers and 900 Moroccan soldiers,
would take place at several locations in Agadir in April.

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank from Company E, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, fires a round from its 120mm main gun during a training mission in Morocco as part of African Lion 2011.

“African Lion is our largest exercise on the continent that provides
military personnel from both countries a venue to plan, coordinate and execute military operations while strengthening bonds of professionalism and friendship,” Capt. Jim Philpot, a lead planner for U.S. Marine Forces Africa, said.

On Jan. 23, Africom held the third and final planning conference with Morocco for African Lion, which has taken place in the North African kingdom since 2008. The four-day parley, which took place at the southern headquarters of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, reviewed plans to conduct such exercises as aviation training, amphibious landings, intelligence capacity building, and command post and peace support operations.

“The U.S. and Moroccan armed forces will do everything from combined arms fire and maneuver ranges, aerial refueling and deliveries of supplies, to command post and non-lethal weapons training,” a U.S. Marine Corps
statement said.

Officials said African Lion, meant to last two weeks, would develop
joint and combined capabilities by the U.S. Marine Corps with the Moroccan
military. They said the exercise would include more complex maneuvers and
missions that would focus on counter-insurgency.

“Continuing to build on the progress of previous African Lion exercises
is essential to evolving and adding complexity to the exercise,” Philpot
said. “Now we are ready to see it all come to fruition.”

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