By Maj. Brent Mangum
19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) , Utah National Guard
Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, and Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces Southern Zone Commander, visit with U.S. and Moroccan forces at Tifnit, Morocco, June 9, 2021.
Paratroopers from Utah’s 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) are participating in multiple training activities at the Tifnit Training Area, including a brigade level combined Command Post Exercise and various small group special operations training activities with Moroccan Special Operations Forces.
After formal introductions and refreshments, and as part of a larger visit to the Tifnit Training Center, Generals Cavoli, Farouk, and other senior U.S. and Moroccan leaders stopped by the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Joint Operations Center where they received a Commander’s Update Brief. The presentation showed leaders how U.S. and Moroccan Special Operations Forces were – at a brigade level – conducting a combined mock battle exercise in fictional North African countries.
“Soldiers from the 19th Group have been preparing for over a year for this exercise and we were happy to have Generals Cavoli and Farouk visit us here at Tifnit,” said Col. Paul Peters, commander of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). “It was an outstanding opportunity for us to showcase the abilities of Utah’s Special Operations Soldiers; to show how we would – with a brigade sized unit – influence and shape the battlefield at the strategic level.”
The National Guard in each state in the United States has 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. Hundreds of Utah’s service members are training in and around the Moroccan cities of Tifnit, Tantan, and Tafroute.
“The Utah National Guard State Partnership Program’s longstanding relationship with Morocco cultivates and promotes enduring relationships of trust and confidence with Morocco’s military while bolstering U.S. defense security goals,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard. “The objectives of events like African Lion 21 are to strengthen our bilateral partnerships, build and test our joint team strategic readiness, and to promote regional cooperation to strengthen the ability of African militaries to work together.”
Exercise African Lion 2021 is 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 and tests the application of modern capabilities and time-tested tactics, techniques, and procedures in multi-functional, multi-domain, and multinational environments while simultaneously stressing and improving service members' abilities to deploy, fight, and win with strategic advantage on modern-day battlefields, even in degraded environments.
More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO are training together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces in support of U.S. National Defense Strategy.
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