AGADIR, Morocco – The next step in the year-long process to plan and conduct African Lion 23 concluded last week, here with the completion of the Pre Deployment Site Survey and Mid Planning Event, Jan. 17.
The planning event, organized by U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa included site visits and assessments at all four locations of the exercise, plus direct in-person planning in multiple locations to ensure all participants and locations are prepared for this large-scale global exercise.
"The planning effort for African Lion 23 is moving along smoothly and is due to the hard work and effort put forth by the component services and our partner nations,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ezekial Moreno, African Lion Branch Chief for SETAF-AF. “I am excited to be the lead planner for this major U.S. exercise and to serve with such highly skilled professionals. I am looking forward to AL23's execution in May."
AL23 is U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Djibouti, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia, between May 13 and June 16, 2023. More than 8,000 participants from 13 nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. AL23 is a joint all-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, employing a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants and set the theater for strategic access.
Since its inception in the late 1990s, African Lion has continued to grow in size and scope. Last year, Senegal and Ghana both hosted field training exercises at military installations within their respective countries. This year, they will again host expanded training which incorporates host nation forces and U.S. personnel, including soldiers from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade. Additionally, Humanitarian Civic Assistance missions will feature a combination of medical, dental and veterinary assistance or exchanges taking place in Morocco, Ghana and Tunisia.
A highlight of this year’s exercise will be a rapid deployment of a U.S. HIMARS rocket system to a base in Djibouti, followed by a live-fire demonstration at the landing zone and rapid redeployment of the system to a follow-on location for further training.
In 2023, the Utah National Guard also celebrates 20 years of cooperation with Morocco under the auspices of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Utah and the Kingdom of Morocco will highlight this with a series of public outreach events during the exercise.
"Now that we have solidified major operational activities, we are focusing our efforts on detailed planning in order to synchronize requirements across the continent and ensure a successful exercise,” said Moreno.
With only three months to go before the exercise starts, planners and service members across the U.S., Europe and Africa remain busy preparing for the mission ahead.
U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe & Africa a dedicated headquarters to synchronize Army activities in Africa and scalable crisis response options in Africa and Europe.