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African Eagle

African Eagle is a biannual exercise between the United States and Morocco. African Eagle is a joint exercise for both countries. Moroccan forces include the Royal Moroccan Air Force, Navy, and naval infantry. American forces include elements of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

In November 1986 a 6-plane detachment from VMA-231 participated in Exercise AFRICAN EAGLE, operating from USS Saipan in the Mediterranean. Out of 332 sorties scheduled in the exercises, not a single sortie was missed.

United States forces began training 04 December 1994 in a combined naval exercise with the Moroccan armed services. The exercise, named "African Eagle 94," was the fifth such cooperative training effort undertaken since the mid-1980s. For African Eagle 94 American forces were hosted in an exercise focusing on amphibious power projection capability of Sixth Fleet's amphibious forces under the tactical command of Commander Task Force 61. During African Eagle 94, both nations built upon the successes of past exercises, and to enhance the mutual understanding and trust gained through previous training evolutions.

The commander of the joint task force, designated Joint Task Force African Eagle is Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, VADM Joseph Prueher. United States Navy ships and units participating in African Eagle 94 include USS Ponce (LPD 15), USS Cape St. George (CG 71), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and USS L. Mendel Rivers (SSN 686). United States Marine Corps elements of the 22nd MEU (SOC) comprise the ground forces of the exercise.

In the 1994 exercise, all phases of an amphibious assault were practiced, from the initial planning, transit with ships in formation supported by anti-surface, anti-subsurface and anti-air escorts, preparation of troops and equipment, rehearsal and an actual assault phase and reembarkation. African Eagle 94 was an ambitious and realistic training exercise. It will sharpened the skills of American Sailors, Marines and airmen at every level, and challenge the capabilities of the combat and support organizations in a combined operating environment.

The deployment of airmen and fighter aircraft to Sidi Slimane Air Base in Morocco for exercise African Eagle '96 is a prime example of the Air Force using training opportunities to improve its readiness. Airmen from throughout USAFE, along with F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle fighters from Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England, participated in live air-to-air exercises with Royal Moroccan air force F-5 and Mirage F-1 fighters.

The importance of these kinds of exercises is that they keep the edge on US forces. "We can get out of our main bases and into a deployed location in ways that we will do it for real -- in fact are doing it for real in lots of locations. It's also a total force effort, with the Guard and Reserve with us on this deployment. It's a multinational effort, at Sidi Slimane in Morocco.

Although the official exercise kickoff came Dec. 8, an advance team arrived early to establish a command and control presence and to test the ability of the 16th Air Force Special Command Advance Team, or SCAT, to get everything ready for the arrival of people and aircraft. The SCAT provides command and control for all U.S. participants, who had been rolled into the 16th Air Expeditionary Group. The concept of the SCAT is to get an advance team in country, which would then receive more forces. The team includes the commander, planners and functional area experts who can work with rear units to get supplies, and to contract with the local economy for some items when available. They land, take a look at the airfield, decide what's needed for follow-on Air Force units, find out what our mission is and then what it takes to accomplish that mission.

In January 2001 approximately 70 people from Aviano's 555th Fighter Squadron and about 90 other support people from the base's 31st Fighter Wing deployed to the biannual exercise dubbed "African Eagle." U.S. pilots practiced dissimilar air combat training with the Royal Moroccan air force. This type of training -- flying missions with different types of aircraft -- has been conducted in one form or another at this former U.S. air base since 1983. Aviano pilots said it gave them a chance to practice things they don't normally get to do.

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