SUFFOLK, Virginia — U.S. military and interagency planners finished designing the scenario for Exercise African Lion 23 at the Joint Staff Suffolk Complex Dec. 5-16.
The group of nearly 50 experts across all joint functions and several interagency disciplines developed a robust scenario that they think will test the warfighting capabilities of U.S. Africa Command and its service components, principally the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF).
The Joint Staff J7 Directorate for Joint Training hosted the planners in Suffolk, where they culminated months of collaboration on an exercise scenario to capture dozens of training objectives for AFRICOM and the joint force.
“African Lion 23 increases Joint Force readiness by challenging AFRICOM and component staffs to respond to a high intensity conflict across all domains,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Clarence Jernigan, AFRICOM exercises desk officer for the Joint Staff J7 in Suffolk.
African Lion 23 is supported by the Joint Training Tool to help plan and prepare exercise events, said AFRICOM Simulation Lead Planner Army Maj. Alvin “Cav” Cavalier. The JTT is an online collaboration tool used to synchronize various scenario events, he said.
“African Lion will use the Joint Live Virtual Constructive architecture which enables the joint force to fight from one common operating picture and provide critical simulation requirements during execution,” said Cavalier.
“The exercise is designed to test how well we plan, prepare, and execute joint planning across the joint force.”
All AFRICOM components will be tested in African Lion 23, but the primary U.S. training audience for the exercise is once again the U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s SETAF-AF, based in Vicenza, Italy.
“This is the fifth time Exercise African Lion has tested SETAF-AF’s ability to provide a joint task force headquarters to AFRICOM,” said Army Maj. Matt James, SETAF-AF operations officer. “With each one, we learn something new about ourselves, about near-peer adversaries, and always about how to work with our African partners.”
Exercise African Lion 23 starts in January in Stuttgart, Germany, when the AFRICOM staff will identify a fictional emerging crisis in Africa. Then in March, AFRICOM components will support the SETAF-AF-led JTF command post exercise. Finally, in June, African Lion will culminate with various field, maritime, air and medical training exercises in Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.
“Exercise African Lion has no peer in Africa,” said Army Lt. Col. Bradley Vance, U.S. Africa Command lead African Lion 23 planner. According to Vance, four African countries will host African Lion exercise activities in 2023—Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.
“When it comes to defense and security cooperation through exercises and security force assistance, the U.S. is the clear partner of choice in Africa,” he said.
About SETAF-AF U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) is responsible for achieving U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Campaign Plan objectives while conducting all U.S. Army operations, exercises and security cooperation on the African continent.