News: African Lion 13 Begins with Maritime Offload
Story by Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda
AGADIR, Morocco – As part of Exercise African Lion 13, a joint force of Marines, airmen, sailors, and soldiers conducted a maritime prepositioning offload at the port of Agadir, Morocco, that delivered, organized, and prepared vehicles and equipment for the joint multi-lateral exercise, April 6.
“We are going through the entire maritime prepositioning process; from planning all the way through to the offload, employment to implementation, and then to retrograde, reconstitution and back-loading the ship,” said Lt. Col. Peter J. Mahoney, the officer-in-charge of the Arrival-and-Assembly Operation Group, AL-13.
The U.S. Navy Ship Dahl, a cargo transport, pulled into the Moroccan port to deliver more than 250 short tons of equipment for the exercise, slated to begin this month.
“This is a true Maritime Prepositioning of Force ‘drill’ where all the equipment from the offload will actually be used during the exercise,” said Mahoney, a Red Bank, N.J., native.
Joint Task Force- Port Opening is a joint-force service element commanded by U.S. Transportation Command with the capability to rapidly establish and initially operate a port of debarkation and distribution, facilitating ship-to-shore support for regional combatant commanders.
“We work with all services depending on where we go,” said Maj. Joseph M. Borovicka, an operations officer for JTF-PO. “It’s replicating what we would be doing during a real-world contingency,” added Borovicka, regarding the MPF here.
“When we say ‘rapid,’ we mean it. I can have my whole unit in-route to an objective in 36 hours. It’s an awesome capability,” said Borovicka, a native of Greenville, S.C.
The current offload of JTF-PO represents an MPF where all task force elements are participating at the same time.
“The JTF-PO usually does this for other drills and exercises [throughout the year], but this is one of the few times they are here with the ‘customer,’” Mahoney said.
“Having the customer here has been great for the task force because we’ve had a lot of integration opportunities,” said Mahoney. “It’s great for the Marines because we don’t always work with USTRANSCOMM assets.”
The offload will continue throughout the week, delivering 7-ton trucks, armored Humvees, Howitzers, and other logistical items such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for the exercise.
“We have to utilize capabilities throughout the entire Department of Defense,” said Borovicka. “We can never train enough, but we need to have the habitual working relations such that we can converge, build the team, and do the mission.”
Exercise African Lion is a U.S. Africa Command-scheduled, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa- led, joint multi-lateral exercise that will involve more than 1,400 U.S. servicemembers and approximately 900 Royal Moroccan Armed Forces to conduct military-to-military engagements in various exercises that build military partner-nation capacity. For the first time, members of the Federal Republic of Germany Armed Forces and members of 12 additional European and African countries will observe the exercise. During AL-13, the combined task force will conduct familiarization and training to include: command post exercise, live-fire and maneuvering, peace keeping operations, intelligence capacity building seminar, humanitarian and civic assistance, amphibious operations, aerial refueling and low-level flight training.