Exercise African Lion kicks off with roaring success

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A C-130J Super Hercules conducts the first dirt landing during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16 near Kenitra Air Force Base, Morocco. Exercises like African Lion 2018 ensure the U.S. is prepared to deter and defeat trans-national threats operating in Africa, and respond to crises anywhere on the continent.

KENITRA AIR BASE, Morocco — Kaiserslautern Military Community Airmen and Soldiers teamed up with Royal Moroccan Armed Forces for Exercise African Lion 18, April 16 to 27 nearby Kenitra Air Base, Morocco.

Service members from the 86th Airlift Wing, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 37th Airlift Squadron and 435th Contingency Response Group are a share of approximately 900 U.S. military personnel training throughout the Kingdom of Morocco.

This is the first time KMC Airmen and Soldiers have taken part in the annually-scheduled, combined multilateral exercise from within Morocco.

The tactical training scenarios conducted throughout the U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise benefit all team members in hopes to create a more stable North Africa and strengthen the global community.

Capt. Laura “AMP” Martineau, 37th AS pilot and Exercise AL 18 mission commander, said the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces service members have been extremely helpful.

“Their maintenance has been working hand-in-hand with our maintenance and helping us whenever we need anything,” Martineau continued. “So far they’ve helped with fueling, cargo loading and rigging. We’re really grateful for their support and for allowing us the flexibility in using their facilities and their air space.”

About an hour’s drive from Morocco’s capital of Rabat, KMC and Royal Moroccan service members opened Exercise AL 18 successfully, accomplishing combined personnel drops from a C-130J Super Hercules.

A Royal Moroccan Armed Forces paratrooper prepares for a personnel drop during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16 near Kenitra Air Force Base, Morocco. Approximately 900 U.S. military personnel have arrived in the Kingdom of Morocco to join nearly 400 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces to take part in Exercise African Lion 18.

Right after, 37th AS pilots practiced their first unimproved dirt landing in Morocco while RF service members observed on board and from the mud-cracked ground.

“It’s probably one of the most challenging landing zones I’ve ever seen,” Martineau said. “So, it was pretty good training for us and a very unique opportunity since we don’t get to do that very often in Europe. It prepares us for real-world operations in different parts of Africa and the Middle East.”

In addition to the dirt landings, Martineau said the Atlas Mountains present great low-level tactical training opportunities where Royal Moroccan pilots, navigators and loadmasters fly onboard to observe.

“We’ve been cooperating to be able to learn from each other, and we’ve been learning about some of their techniques as well,” Martineau said.

Exercise AL 18 allows Morocco to act as a force multiplier by providing support and training for other African Partner Nations in the region.

The exercise will involve various types of training, including a Combined Joint Task Force, Command Post Exercise linked with Intelligence Capacity Building Workshop and Basic Intelligence Course, Field Training Exercise, as well as a Humanitarian Civic Assistance event and a Senior Leader Dialogue focused on the USAFRICOM Theatre Campaign Plan.

In addition to the widespread events taking place in Morocco, the U.S. Marine Corp Forces Europe and Africa are leading an exercise spoke in Tunisia with Germany, Spain, Great Britain, France, Canada, Italy, andGreece.

Senior Airman Kyle Volentine, 435 Contingency Response Group jumpmaster, high-fives Airmen, Soldiers and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces paratroopers April 16 at Rabat Airfield, Morocco. Members boarded a C-130J Super Hercules to conduct a personnel drop during Exercise African Lion 18. Members work to promote regional cooperation and to strengthen the ability of our militaries to work together.
A Royal Moroccan Armed Forces paratrooper receives a U.S. Air Force 37th Airlift Squadron patch from a 37th AS loadmaster, during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16 at Rabat Airfield, Morocco. African Lion is a combined multilateral exercise designed to improve mutual understanding of each nations’ tactics, techniques and procedures while demonstrating the strong bond between the nation’s militaries.
Staff Sgt. Brandon Ravenell, 37th Airlift Squadron and E8 Rara, Royal Moroccan Air Force loadmasters, work on a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16 at Kenitra Air Force Base, Morocco. U.S. participation in multinational exercises enhances our professional relationships and allows us to support interoperability of forces.