By Capt. Jonathon DaniellMarch 26, 2019
AGADIR, Morocco - U.S. Army Africa assumed the combined joint task force headquarters role for African Lion 2019 in Agadir, Morocco, March 25.
African Lion is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-sponsored, U.S. Africa Command-scheduled and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa-led exercise concentrated in Morocco with an element in Tunisia. The exercise is designed to improve interoperability among partner nations and enhance military practices at multiple echelons of command.
"African Lion is a great opportunity for USARAF to integrate components as AFRICOM's premiere CJTF-HQs exercise," Alex Valdes said, the USARAF African Lion lead planner. "Not only does it help us maintain our readiness, it allows us to build multinational interoperability and strengthen our relationships with partner nations."
USARAF will comprise around 100 of the approximate 1,100 U.S. service members participating in the exercise and join nearly 1,000 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, approximately 250 Tunisian armed forces, and armed forces participants from Canada, Spain, Senegal and the United Kingdom.
As the CJTF-HQ, USARAF provides mission command for the air, land and sea components of the exercise, receives and disseminates information and coordinates and de-conflicts resources for all entities.
Leading up to the exercise, USARAF played a vital role in setting the theater for African Lion.
The USARAF logistics team worked in concert with Military Sealift Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, along with local deckhands in both Italy and Morocco, to ship equipment from the Port of Livorno, Italy, to the Port of Tangier, Morocco.
The surface movement demonstrated proof of concept that USARAF, in coordination with its partners and allies, possesses the capability to move equipment in support of contingency operations aboard military vessels if needed.
"Moving equipment in support of African Lion onboard a military vessel vs a commercial ship was a huge milestone for this command," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Juanita Maximin said, USARAF mobility officer. "This was the first time USARAF accomplished this feat, so we now have a baseline of what to look for and how we can improve moving forward."
USARAF will assume the lead planner role from Marine Forces Europe and Africa as the component overseeing next year's African Lion.
"One of the added benefits of having robust USARAF participation for this year's exercise is that we have the opportunity to learn from our Marine partners in each capability area," said Lt. Col. Nate Peterson, USARAF's African Lion 2020 lead planner. "MARFORAF has a fantastic track record with African Lion Partners, and USARAF is looking forward to building on those successes."