News: African Lion 12 underway after 'historic' maritime offload
Story by Gunnery Sgt. William Price
AGADIR, Morocco - Service members from all over the United States teamed up with the Moroccan Armed Forces to kick off Exercise African Lion 2012, in Agadir, Morocco, April 7-18.
Approximately 1,200 U.S. military personnel have arrived in various regions of the Kingdom of Morocco to take part in the annual exercise, designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures.
AL-12 is a U.S. African Command-sponsored, Marine Forces Africa-led exercise that involves various types of training including command post, live-fire and maneuvering, peace keeping operations, an intelligence capacity building seminar, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects.
Leading Joint Task Force African Lion 12 is Col. Roger Garay, 14th Marine Regiment commanding officer, out of Fort Worth, Texas. Garay said plans for this year's exercise are bigger and better than ever. “This is the first time a MEU and a reserve regiment have teamed together in this capacity, and it has proven to be an adrenaline shot, as it brings aviation and amphibious capabilities to the table that our Moroccan partners are very interested in.”
In preparation for AL-12, JTF Marines from 4th Marine Logisitics Group, 4th Marine Division, conducted a massive maritime offload at the Port of Agadir, April 5.
“We unloaded 169 pieces of rolling stock assets from the MPF [Maritime Pre-positioning Force] in under 12 hours,” said Gunnery Sgt. Fermin Rodriguez, logisitics chief, JTF AL-12. “Everything from M-777 Howitzers and logistical items to M1A1 Abrams tanks. All totaled it was more than two million pounds of gear.”
CWO-3 James Clark, Assistant Strategy Mobility officer, MFA, said the offload was historic for the Marines of the JTF. “It is very rare the reserve component is afforded the opportunity to integrate and lead staffs from throughout the United States, in order to utilize the dynamic capability of the Maritime Pre-positioning Force.”
This mission-essential gear will be shipped to several different locations throughout Morocco to include Kenitra, Tifnit, and the deserts of Cap Draa and Tan-Tan.
“African Lion has grown so much. It is so well organized. Marines and Moraccans are always ready to train together in such austere environments,” said Al Myers, Force Protection liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco.
“This year's African Lion is a potential precedence-setting enlargement of the exercise that will further deepen the ties between our two countries,” Garay added. “On the heels of nine months of joint and bi-lateral planning, the JTF is ready and excited to go above and beyond AFRICOM's goals for this enduring U.S. and Moroccan relationship.”
With the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force all present and accounted for, U.S. service members will partner with more than 900 Moroccan Armed Forces counterparts in the coming weeks, to ensure the roar of African Lion 12 is heard by the world.