Utah Guard Joins African Lion Exercise


By Master Sgt. Grady Fontana


Published May 24, 2010


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SSG Annette Aldrige, 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, speaks with a Moroccan Army colonel in Agadir May 16.

Photo by SGT Whitney Houston

SSG Annette Aldridge, a French linguist with Charlie Company, 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, with a colonel of the Moroccan Army at the Moroccan military's South Command Headquarters in Agadir May 16.

AGADIR, Morocco — More than 150 members of the joint task force conducting Exercise African Lion 2010 arrived here to mark the beginning of the exercise May 14.

The Utah National Guard along with Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen will participate in the largest exercise in U.S. Africa Command's area of activity.

"I know I have the best [Servicemembers] of what each unit can offer," said Col. Anthony Fernandez III, the Combined Joint Task Force commander for the exercise, while addressing the members of the task force. "This is a complicated exercise, and it is a large exercise.I know we're going to be successful."

African Lion, a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise, will include various types of military training including command post, live-fire training, peacekeeping operations, disaster-response training, intelligence capacity-building seminar, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical, dental, and veterinarian assistance projects and exercise-related construction to run concurrent with the training.

Various units from Marine Corps Forces Africa and Marine Corps Reserve along with the Tennessee Army National Guard and Naval Forces Africa will conduct bilateral training, weapons qualification and peacekeeping-operations training with units from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces.

Marines and aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 and 11th Tactical Aviation Command will conduct various ground courses, as well as aerial refueling and low-level flight training with their counterparts in the Royal Moroccan Air Force.

Concurrent with the exercise, U.S. military professionals from the Utah Army and Air National Guard, which is joined with Morocco in the National Guard's State Partnership Program, will provide medical, dental and veterinarian assistance to the local residents in and around the community of Taroudant.

The exercise is an annually scheduled, joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise. It brings together nearly 1,000 U.S. Servicemembers from 16 locations throughout Europe and North America with more than 1,000 members of the Moroccan military.

African Lion is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures.

The exercise is scheduled to end June 9. All U.S. forces will return to their home bases in the United States and Europe at the conclusion of the exercise.

The last African Lion exercise occurred in May 2009 and involved about 1,400 Moroccan and U.S. military personnel.