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Royal Moroccan Marines /
The Moroccan Marine Corps

The Royal Moroccan Marines are a naval infantry of 1,500 personnel [some sources report as many as 2,000], organised and deployed in three battalion-strength fighting units [Bataillons de fusiliers marins - BFM] for landing missions and sabotage. The main units are located in Agadir, Al Hoceima, Dakhla, and detachments (company) in Casablanca and La‚youn, with detachments to southern garrisons. This role includes guarding against infiltration along southern coasts by Polisario guerrillas. The Moroccan Marine Corps is subordinated to the Moroccan Navy (Marine Royale Marocaine). Each battalion has approximately 600 men and are composed of 3 infantry companies and 1 company of special operations (landing, infiltration, sabotage, intelligence...)

The Royal Marines are equipped with such light tactical vehicles HMMWV, Jeep, truck. The Marines were armed with anti-tank missiles, heavy machine-guns and 23 mm cannons (some mounted on Hummer or light vehicles), 120, recoilless mortars, and all communications and infantry equipment. The marines have few assault or raiding craft. It is probable that personnel operate from the faster rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) known to be carried by some of the patrol craft. However, these are almost certainly not powerful enough to keep up with the RIBs that are now used by the drug traffickers to Spain. To carry out their missions, the MR has available the Naval Aviation Forces Panther helicopters (other helicopters will be ordered).

Moroccan amphibious capabilities were established in the 1990s with the acquisition of the large ex-US Newport-class landing ship (Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah - 400 troops) and Dakhla-class support ship (800 tons of cargo), plus the refitting of two of the Batral-class landing ships (140 troops each). By 2010 the navy had three 1,409-ton Batral-class landing ship (tank) or LSTs, which could carry 140 troops and 12 vehicles or 300 tons of cargo, and one Edic-class 670-ton landing craft (tank) which could carry up to 11 vehicles.

As of 2010 Janes reported that the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, by then four decades old, had experienced operating difficulties in service and may not be seaworthy. The ship has experienced repeated maintenance and operating problems. On 06 December 2005 the U.S. Coast Guard rushed to assist a Moroccan warship in the waters off Puerto Rico. The Moroccan navy tank landing ship Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah began taking on water at a location about 60 nautical miles (69 mi, 111 km) north of Aguadilla, P.R., and contacted the Coast Guard by radio on the international distress frequency. The Coast Guard sent an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, HU-25 Falcon jet and diverted three cutters -- the Sapelo, Ocracoke of the Island-class and the Reliance-class vessel Confidence -- to assist. With the help of dewatering pumps, the Moroccan vessel controlled the flooding.

Bristol County (LST-1198) was named after counties in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She was laid down on 13 February 1971 at San Diego, Calif., by the National Steel & Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 4 December 1971; sponsored by Mrs. Robert Lee Townsend; and commissioned on 5 August 1972, Comdr. Donald L. Waggoner in command. Following commissioning, Bristol County was assigned to the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, with the home port of Long Beach. In the years that followed, the tank landing ship alternated amphibious training operations off the west coast of the United States with periodic, sustained deployments to the western Pacific. She maintained this cycle into 1980. In 1994 she was disposed of through the Security Assistance Program (SAP), transferred, cash sale, ex-US fleet hull foreign military sale case number assigned.

To the period of anarchy (al-Fitna al-Kubra) that followed Mawlay Isma'ilís death, supervened a rehabilitation epoch under Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah (1757-1790) who succeeded his father's ill-starred rule. Sidi Mohammed vigorously advocated the strengthening of the faltering 'Alawite dynasty. After seizing power, he sought to recast the whole state apparatus into an effective instrument capable of realizing his dream: The creation of an effective army but not a pretorian guard; the setting up of an efficient administration capable of sustaining itself through various means, such as extra Quranic taxes, and foreign trade, rather than on mere tax collection; and finally to reintegrate Morocco into a more militant Islamic Sultanate, closely attuned in creed and cult with the Ahl al-Hadith movement in Egypt and the Haramayn.

Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah built the Royal Palace in Marrakech, along with the Mechouar squares for ceremonies. He also adorned the city with inner gardens and had mausoleums build over the city patron saintsí tombs. From Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallahís rule until 1912, the time of the establishment of the French protectorate, Fez and Marrakech were the alternative capitals of Morocco.

During a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the USS Guam Amphibious Ready Group, elements of the five-ship ready group participated in joint and combined training exercises, including African Eagle '92, in which 101 embarked Royal Moroccan naval infantrymen stormed the beach aboard U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles.

On 04 December 1994, USS GUNSTON HALL anchored in Betoya Bay, Morocco to conduct exercise AFRICAN EAGLE '94. Essentially, from 4-12 December, the US ship conducted many LCAC landings, tactical formation exercises with USS PONCE and the Royal Moroccan Naval Ship SIDI MOHAMMED BEN ADBELLAH (former USS BRISTOL COUNTY), flight operations, small boat operations, and routine anchorages in Betoya Bay. In 2001 a joint exercise of the US Marines with the Moroccan Naval Infantry trained the Moroccans in the use of amphibious operations, infantry skills and raid tactics.

On 11 July 2002 a group of Moroccan gendarmes occupied a tiny, uninhabited island near Ceuta, one of Spain's two north African city-enclaves. The declared purpose of establising an outpost to help to fight drug smugglers. The islet (no bigger than two football fields) is empty except for the herd of goats that feed on the wild parsley from which it takes its Spanish name, Perejil (Leila to the Moroccans). The Lelia islands are 200 yards from the coast of Morocco. A force of six Moroccan marines then took over from the gendarmes. Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, sent five warships and a submarine, plus helicopters and other aircraft, to the area. The 7,000 men of Spain's Foreign Legion, who defend Spain's two north African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, placed on alert. At dawn on 17 July 2002 Spanish commandos recaptured the islet and put a Foreign Legion unit ashore to hold it, without a shot fired. The evicition of the moroccan marines from the Perejil rock was performed by the Unidad de Operaciones Especiales (UOE) from the army. The captured Moroccans, unharmed, they were handed to the Civil Guard (a police force) and they were who gave them back to the Moroccan autorities at Ceuta border.

A team of 12 medical professionals from U.S. Naval Hospital Rota deployed to Tangier, Morocco, in October 2002 to participate in the weeklong MEDSHARK 2002 exercise with the Royal Moroccan armed forces. The exercise involved managing mass casualties aboard a deployed ship, then triaging and transporting them ashore for further evacuation to a civilian hospital. The hospital staff collaborated with members of the Moroccan army, navy, air force, Public Health Service and Civil Defense Protection Service. To prepare for the mass casualty drill, several days of training were conducted aboard the Royal Moroccan navy ship, BDC Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah (formerly USS Bristol County).

US Commander Task Force 68 Coordinated the two week Exercise Phoenix Express 2009, which brought Algerian And Moroccan Marines to Naval Station Rota to train with U.S. Marines and Spanish pilots. Across the theater, the US emphasis is to work with the partner nations, to assist them to get the kind of training that they want and need to help them become professional enough to take care of their own borders. Multilateral operations are key in maritime strategy. This exercise prepared the US to work with other countries in real world situations.

A Moroccan Maritime Interdiction Operations team conducted basic Close Quarter Battle training in preparation for Exercise Phoenix Express 2010, April 27. The goals of the exercise were to increase participating countries knowledge base and experience level with FAST unit core capabilities and highlight common safety and security concerns in the maritime environment such as illegal immigration, criminal activity, narcotics trafficking, and weapons trafficking.

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Page last modified: 05-06-2016 20:53:31 ZULU