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14th Marines arrive in Morocco, take lead of U.S. participation in Exercise African Lion 2011

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Nana Dannsaappiah, Marine Forces Africa

AGADIR, Morocco -- Marines of Headquarters Battery, 14th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit from Fort Worth, Texas, assumed command of American forces participating in Phase II of Exercise African Lion 2011 during a ceremony here May 15.

African Lion is an annual joint and bi-lateral exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces.

Phase II began when U.S. Naval Forces Africa, designated as Joint Task Force-Morocco, transferred command to the 14th Marine Regiment, designated as Task Force-African Lion. Task Force-African Lion has the task of directing and overseeing bilateral command and control functions of a regimental level task force during Phase II.

“We’re here to support the AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) commander’s goals of bilateral engagement with one of our most important allies in the region,” said Col. John Caldwell, commander, Task Force-African Lion. “We have a diverse group of U.S. military and our Moroccan counterparts working together to improve our interoperability.”

Phase II will involve training with Moroccan counterparts in peacekeeping exercises, aerial training, humanitarian operations, command post exercises, intelligence capacity building and field training exercises. The knowledge and training the Marines of Task Force-African Lion obtain from these exercises will be enough to satisfy the reservists’ two week annual training requirement.

“It’s a great opportunity to expand my MOS (military occupational specialty) knowledge and also work with foreigners and show them what Americans are all about,” said Sgt. Kimberly Cano, a radio operator from HQ Battery, 14th Marines, and a Coppelle, Texas, native.

The Marines of Task Force-African Lion will not only increase their knowledge of working with an ally nation, but they will also gain the experience of working with other services of the U.S. military. Inside the exercise’s combat operations center, personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force can be seen hunched over their computers working to ensure the more than 2,000 personnel exercise runs smoothly.

“Its one team, one fight,” said Gunnery Sgt. Logan E. Conway, anti-terrorism force protection chief of Task Force-African Lion. “We have to be able to interact and work with other services when we’re deployed in order to get the mission accomplished.”

Exercise African Lion 2011 is an annually scheduled, joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise. It is the largest exercise within the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, and is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s military tactics, techniques and procedures. All U.S. forces will return to their home bases in the United States and Europe at the conclusion of the exercise.

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