TAN TAN, Morocco - More than two dozen Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s 3-116th Combined Arms Battalion conducted tank gunnery training with members of the Royal Moroccan Army in the Tan Tan Training Area, June 8-10 during Exercise African Lion 2023.
The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is headquartered in Boise, Idaho, with battalions in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Nevada.
Over three days, Soldiers from both armies conducted tank gunnery tables III, V and VI using the Abrams Main Battle Tank. U.S. Soldiers operate the M1A2 SEPV2 version and Moroccan Soldiers operate the M1A1 model.
“The tanks are the same. There’s just a slight difference between them,” said Master Sgt. Aghzaf Abdelkrim, 15 Regiment Royal Char, Royal Moroccan Army.
Abdelkrim completed the U.S. Army’s Master Gunner Common Core course last year. He said he enjoys working with the U.S. and sharing his culture with American Soldiers. He is training alongside more than two dozen Soldiers from the 3-116th CAB, and a small number of Idaho Army National Guard tank master gunners and instructors.
“Our focus is on target acquisition, troop commands and building relationships with our Moroccan counterparts,” said Master Sgt. Joe Carson, the battalion’s tank master gunner.
The Soldiers are conducting gunnery in preparation for a joint live-fire demonstration later in the exercise. Realistic training during peace increases the capability of both armies to work together and win on the battlefield.
“The Moroccan Soldiers are sound tankers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Barnes, an Idaho Army National Guard 19K M1 Armor Crewman instructor with the 204th Regional Training Institute. “They show a huge interest in learning how we do things. I would go to war with the Moroccans any day.”
Approximately 8,000 personnel from 18 nations will participate in African Lion 2023, U.S. Africa Command's largest annual combined, joint exercise occurring in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia from May 13 to June 18, 2023.