By Pfc. Chalon Hutson, 301st Public Affairs Detachment June 2, 2011
CAP DRAA, Morocco, June 3, 2011 -- Different branches of the U.S. military often seem to be in competition with each other; however, at Cap Draa, Morocco, servicemembers from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps are finding ways work together in order to provide training meant to improve skills needed in today’s modern warfare.
Exercise African Lion 11 is a U.S. Africa Command-scheduled, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa-conducted, joint and bi-lateral exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States that involves more than 2,000 U.S. servicemembers and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, held between April 25 and June 18, 2011.
Servicemembers have been working together in various capacities, ranging from transporting equipment overseas, to joint training, to handing out meals, and everything in between.
For example, with participation from Soldiers and Sailors, the first piece of Army equipment that was transported from Newport News, Va., across the Atlantic Ocean, to the Port of Tan Tan, Morocco, was downloaded and transported to Cap Draa, May 6, according to Staff Sgt. Nathan Beckham, movement noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 24th Battalion, out of Fort Eustis, Va.
A large power generator was downloaded from a boat at the Port of Tan Tan, and then commercially transported an hour away to Cap Draa, where it was downloaded again in order to be used for power for the camp.
“We had approximately 10 to 12 [Sailors] out there helping us with the download,” Beckham said. “Having all three (services) in the fight is important. We couldn’t do it without each other.”
The mission was a success and the generator is now being used to provide power throughout Cap Draa. Another example of different military branches working together was the communications system at the camp. Several systems have been set up since the beginning of African Lion, according to Navy Chief Electronics Technician James Willenbrink.
“We brought mobile communication devices [to Cap Draa],” he said.
They set up systems such as an Iridium phone, which is used for communicating over long distances, and an International Maritime Satellite, which is a commercial system, generally used at sea, which uses satellite signals to send phone and fax.
“Whenever you bring in another element it adds another tier to the coordination level, so in some ways it makes it more difficult to coordinate and consolidate the information, especially throughout the information community,” Willenbrink said.
He was happy to work with other servicemembers in order to make the mission successful. He said it gives him optimism for when joint forces have to work in theatre -- that they can work together through difficulty.
“That’s why we do these exercises and practice,” said Willenbrink. “When we have to do it for real, we will accomplish the mission.”