Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    NY National Guardsmen Strengthen Bond with Allies in Morocco

    US Marines lead demolitions training with joint forces and Moroccan military

    Photo By Avery Schneider | A Moroccan Royal Armed Forces Soldier and Spc. Vanessa Nanevie, a combat medic...... read more read more



    Story by Avery Schneider 

    New York National Guard

    More than 480 New York National Guard Soldiers trained alongside other U.S. troops and allies in the Moroccan desert from May 21 through 31, strengthening one of America’s oldest international bonds.

    The Guardsmen – assigned to 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team – played critical roles in the 20th edition of African Lion, U.S. Africa Command’s premier exercise and the largest U.S. military training event conducted on the African continent.

    This year’s exercise integrated more than 8,100 participants across 27 nations and NATO, with live training events in Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, and Senegal. The exercise is designed to enhance regional cooperation and security in North and West Africa while countering strategic competitors.

    “African Lion presented a distinct opportunity for our citizen Soldiers to test their readiness to deploy, fight, and win alongside members of the joint force and our partners and allies,” said Col. Bradley Frank, commander of the 27th brigade. “Our team's success during African Lion is a testament to the essential role the National Guard plays in national defense.”

    The 27th’s presence in Morocco included an infantry battalion, a medical company, a combat engineer platoon, and a portion of the brigade’s headquarters.

    • More than 240 Soldiers from the Utica-based 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment trained on individual skills and combined arms tactics, including the use of mortars, machine guns, Javelin anti-tank systems, TOW anti-tank missiles, and Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles.

    • More than 60 Soldiers from the Buffalo-based Charlie Company, 427th Brigade Support Battalion provided care and support for U.S. servicemembers and NATO allies with a fully operational Role II medical facility. The unit also conducted training and knowledge exchanges with joint forces and members of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces.

    • More than 30 Soldiers from the Lockport-based Bravo Company, 152nd Brigade Engineer Battalion provided engineer support to the 2-108th Infantry, as well as training for the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces alongside the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve’s 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group.

    In addition to overseeing its own Soldiers, the 27th IBCT headquarters served as the command-and-control element for more than 130 active duty and reserve members of U.S. joint forces, and more than 40 members of the Italian Armed Forces’ Joint Force Headquarters.

    Additionally, from April into May, nearly 100 Soldiers from the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery Regiment fired their M119 105mm howitzers in Tunisia alongside Tunisian Armed Forces, and National Guard units from Maryland and Texas as part of African Lion.

    • RELATED: Maryland, New York, Texas National Guard units team with Tunisian Armed Forces at African Lion 2024 (

    • RELATED: BROLL: New York National Guard conducts artillery training at African Lion 2024 (

    After becoming one of the first countries to recognize the newly-independent United States, Morocco formally recognized the U.S. with a treaty of peace and friendship in 1786. It is the longest unbroken relationship in U.S. history.

    Today, Morocco and the U.S. share common concerns and consult closely on security, political, and economic issues and sustainable development. The country was designated a “Major Non-NATO Ally” in 2004, the same year African Lion began.

    And while 2024 marks the 20th year of African Lion, it also marks the first time New York National Guardsmen have participated in the exercise, adding to the U.S. and Morocco's longstanding security relationship.

    “Morocco is one of our closest and oldest allies, with a friendship dating back to the founding of the United States,” said Lt. Col. Frank Engle, commander of the 2-108th Infantry. “Being part of this training gave every Soldier the opportunity to experience the depth and strength of that relationship, while playing a personal role in continuing to build it.”

    For the New York National Guard, participation in African Lion is a welcome addition to its record of more than two decades of direct ties with allies and partners in Africa.

    • As part of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, New York and South Africa developed the first state partnership relationship on the continent in 2003, and have sustained the relationship with annual exchanges and training opportunities in both countries.

    • 1,100 Soldiers from the 27th IBCT’s 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment – known as the “Fighting 69th” – conducted security operations at U.S. installations in Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia during a nine-month deployment from 2022 through 2023.

    African Lion offered the kind of “Army life” experience some New Yorkers only get in the National Guard. For a select few, the mission to Morocco served as a celebration of their first time ever traveling overseas.

    “I was a little scared at first just because I've never done it before. But it wasn't so bad,” said Spc. Frances Burnett, a unit supply specialist assigned to 2-108’s headquarters company and full-time health science student at the State University of New York at Binghamton. “I'm really happy the military let me experience this.”

    Burnett and her fellow Soldiers got firsthand exposure to training with all ranks of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces in their desert camps, experienced the welcoming Moroccan culture, sampled local cuisine in and out of military settings, and explored life in the Atlantic beachside city of Agadir.

    The culminating events of African Lion for the 27th were two brigade-level joint, combined live-fire exercises in front of senior officials from the U.S. and Moroccan militaries, as well as representatives from partner and allied nations across Europe and Africa.

    The exercises incorporated air power demonstrations by Moroccan F-16 fighter jets and U.S. Apache helicopters, ground maneuver with Humvees, trucks, tanks, and tracked artillery firing machine guns and anti-tank missiles, a ground-to-air medical evacuation, heavy equipment recovery, and a finale launch of rockets from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

    “Training like this strengthens the bond between the U.S. and Morocco, giving each of our militaries and their Soldiers the repetitions and familiarity they need to fight and win together on the battlefield,” Frank said.


    Date Taken: 05.31.2024
    Date Posted: 06.10.2024 23:27
    Story ID: 473585
    Location: TANTAN, MA
    Hometown: BUFFALO, NEW YORK, US
    Hometown: LOCKPORT, NEW YORK, US
    Hometown: SYRACUSE, NEW YORK, US
    Hometown: UTICA, NEW YORK, US

    Web Views: 322
    Downloads: 0