By Maj. William Mangum
Utah National Guard
Approximately 260 Soldiers and Airmen from the Utah Army and Air National Guard arrived in Agadir, Morocco, June 4, 2021, to participate in Exercise African Lion 2021, U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, 7-18 June.
The exercise offers an opportunity for U.S. forces to participate in a multinational exercise which enhances professional relationships and improves interoperability of U.S. and partner nation forces. The exercise bridges tactical to strategic operations, and tests the application of modern capabilities and time-tested techniques, tactics and procedures in multi-functional, multi-domain, and multinational environments while simultaneously stressing and improving service member's ability to deploy, fight and win with strategic advantage on modern-day battlefields, even in degraded environments.
Each U.S. state’s National Guard maintains a State Partnership Program with one or more foreign nations. Utah’s partnership is with Morocco, which was one of the first countries to recognize the newly independent United States, opening its ports to American ships by decree of Sultan Mohammed III in 1777. Morocco formally recognized the United States by signing a treaty of peace and friendship in 1786, a document that remains the longest unbroken relationship in U.S. history. In 2004, the United States designated Morocco a major non-NATO ally. Utah’s service members are primarily training in and around the Moroccan cities of Tifnit, Tantan and Tafraoute.
“Multinational exercises like African Lion allows the Utah National Guard’s State Partnership Program to continue to build and enhance professional relationships while supporting interoperability of forces,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard. “It also allows both parties to further develop tactics, techniques and medical procedures together, and continues to advance the capabilities of all participants.”
The humanitarian efforts provide several different services to the civilians in need in Tafraoute, including internal medicine; general medicine; pediatrics; cardiology; dermatology; gynecology; ear, nose and throat; dental; and optometry.
Utah’s 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) is participating in a Command Post Exercise and Special Operations joint-training events at Tifnit, Morocco. Utah’s 151st Expeditionary Medical Group is conducting medical training with Moroccan medical service professionals in Tafraoute, and jointly providing humanitarian and health services to the local citizens. At Tantan, Utah’s 144th Medical Detachment is providing Role 2 medical care for all military forces participating in joint simulated combat exercises in the Cap Draa, Morocco area.
More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. African Lion 21 is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants and to support the U.S. National Defense Strategy.
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