AGADIR, Morocco – Members of the U.S. armed forces and partner militaries from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America demonstrated their ability to work together as a headquarters staff and enhance partnerships during the African Lion Staff Exercise (STAFFEX) June 2023, in Agadir, Morocco.
The purpose of the STAFFEX was to learn the U.S. military’s joint planning process (JPP) and develop courses of actions (COAs) to counter a theoretical adversary. In next year’s iteration of African Lion, the staff will conduct a command post exercise (CPX) in which they will use one of the COAs developed this year to conduct military operations in a computer-based simulation. In previous editions of African Lion, participants went straight from an educational phase into the CPX.
With the addition of the STAFFEX, exercise participants now have more time for more planning, analysis and integrating as a staff before the execution phase.
Approximately 160 members from the armed forces of the U.S., Botswana, Brazil, Chad, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Italy, Niger, Morocco, Qatar, Senegal and the United Kingdom participated in the STAFFEX.
“African Lion is an outstanding opportunity to build relationships and interoperability with partners and allies from across five combatant commands,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan B. Godwin, future operations chief, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF). “Every participant represents the best military subject matter expertise and cultural representation of his or her country. They are all eager to learn and share insights and processes from their militaries, elevating our understanding for coordinating joint and multinational operations.”
Diverse military leaders came together in the STAFFEX to develop operational COAs addressing fictional scenarios in North and West Africa. A key part of the training was learning to communicate across cultures and languages.
“An interesting part is in mission analysis or in class interactions [because] you get to understand different aspects from different parts of the world,” said Maj. Alhagi Njie, The Gambia Armed Forces.
Another important element of the STAFFEX is its intent to bring together members of the military with very different staff structures and planning processes in their home countries, then create one cohesive team.
“This exercise gave the Botswana Defence Force officers an opportunity to learn and share best practices during critical development of mission analysis, COA development, and so forth,” said Lt. Col. Mopati Opelo, Botswana Defence Force. “The exercise indeed bolstered interoperability among partner nations.”
Members of the Brazilian military participated in African Lion for the second year in a row.
“Working on a combined staff, it’s very good to exchange procedures and different visions with high-level officers and sergeants from Europe, Africa and America,” said Col. Renato Vaz, Brazilian Army.
The STAFFEX is a small portion of African Lion 2023, with this year’s exercise including eighteen nations and approximately 8,000 personnel. It is U.S. Africa Command's largest annual combined, joint exercise taking place in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia from May 13 to June 18, 2023.
The exercise bolsters interoperability among partner nations and supports U.S. military strategic readiness to respond to crises and contingencies in Africa and around the world.
“It is truly a unique training experience with immeasurable long term gains,” concluded Godwin.