USARAF, partners commence planning largest exercise

Military planners from eight nations gathered in Agadir, Morocco, Aug. 5-9, to begin planning U.S. Army Africa’s largest annual exercise, African Lion.


“African Lion 2020 is a U.S. Army Africa-led multi-domain, multi-component, multi-national exercise,” said Alex Valdes, the USARAF African Lion lead planner. “It is U.S. Army Africa’s largest exercise on the African continent. It incorporates forces from over 10 different countries to include the European, U.S. and African theater.”
By Sgt. Jennifer Garza USARAF Agadir, Morocco Aug 29, 2019
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VICENZA, Italy – Military planners from eight nations gathered in Agadir, Morocco, Aug. 5-9, to begin planning U.S. Army Africa’s largest annual exercise, African Lion.

“African Lion 2020 is a U.S. Army Africa-led multi-domain, multi-component, multi-national exercise,” said Alex Valdes, the USARAF African Lion lead planner. “It is U.S. Army Africa’s largest exercise on the African continent. It incorporates forces from over 10 different countries, to include the European, U.S. and African theaters.”

The exercise will be held in four different countries: Morocco, Senegal, Spain and Tunisia, Valdes said. Throughout that area of operations there will be field training exercises that are linked. In Morocco alone, there will be a medical readiness exercise, a large scale combined live fire exercise, an air training exercise, a maritime training exercise, and a cell simulating a forward command post exercise.

The scope of African Lion provides an opportunity for all participating units and nations to enhance readiness by performing their mission essential functions.

“This will be one of the biggest exercises organized in this region; we will have more than 5,000 troops involved,” said Senegalese Navy Commander Djibril Diawara, the naval support group commander. “This is a great opportunity for us to be committed and participate in a large scale exercise involving aircraft, naval assets and land forces maneuvering together. It gives us the capability to unite troops from different countries and that is a great opportunity for all of us.”

The upcoming exercise will bring together several foreign allies who are committed to African partners and the security and stability of their nations.

“This is the first year that the Netherlands is participating in African Lion,” said Jantine Malik-Binnendjik, a Royal Netherlands Army Headquarters civilian planner. “For the Netherlands, this means that we can improve interoperability as part of this exercise. This exercise brings together a lot of countries with different expertise and cultures that are sharing knowledge while gaining knowledge.”

Planners will continue to work together to finalize planning of the exercise during the main planning event and the final planning event in the upcoming months.

There is a heavy amount of work required for these exercises, Valdes said.

“Being here with very intelligent experienced planners facilitates the success of this exercise. These planning events, site surveys, and scenario based conferences are what leads to the successful execution of very complex and dynamic training event.”

African Lion 2020 is set to take place in March.

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