Train African Lion 2021, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) joint annual train, started for the seventeenth time on June 7. The annual train, which was canceled final yr attributable to COVID-19, will run till June 18.
With greater than 7,800 troops collaborating, together with 5,000 from the US and 9 different nations and NATO, African Lion is AFRICOM’s largest train. The coaching is targeted on enhancing readiness for U.S. and accomplice nation forces.
Main Normal Andrew M. Rohling, the U.S. Military Southern European Activity Drive, Africa commander, and the U.S. Military Europe and Africa deputy commanding normal mentioned throughout the launch ceremony at Agadir that African Lion 2021 is “the most important U.S. army train ever carried out on this continent.”
“This train has undoubtedly reached a level of maturity that attests to the energy of cooperative relations between our respective armies,” mentioned Normal Belkhir El Farouk, commander of the Moroccan Military’s Southern Zone.
Nonetheless, Spain, which is historically one of many train’s main individuals, has withdrawn its help this yr.
Spain and Morocco’s Tense Relationship
Madrid has formally cited “budgetary constraints” as its cause for withdrawing from the 2021 African Lion, the Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote. Nonetheless, the precise cause was the Spanish authorities’s disagreement about Rabat legitimizing “the occupation of Western Sahara.” Spain has determined that “sending troopers to those workout routines would legitimize the Moroccan occupation,” El Pais wrote.
Including to the rift with Spain was the inclusion of the city of Mahbes within the train (though U.S. AFRICOM didn’t point out the city as a part of the train). The city is the placement of a 1985 battle over Western Sahara. Mahbes is about 100km away from the city of Tindouf in Algeria the place the headquarters of the Algerian-backed Polisario Entrance army forces are. The Polisario Entrance is the resistance group that wishes to separate Western Sahara from Morocco.
The difficulty of Western Sahara is simply the newest within the confrontational relationship between Madrid and Rabat. Morocco has grown to view Spain as not a viable strategic accomplice. Only in the near past, Morocco allowed several thousand people to cross over to Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta, over which Morocco claims sovereignty.
The train carries on regardless of the Spanish absence.
“African Lion Is an Instance of the US’s Lengthy-term Dedication to Africa”
“African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command’s premier, joint and multi-national annual train. African Lion is a wonderful instance of the US’ long-term dedication to Africa and recognition of Africa’s strategic significance to the US,” mentioned U.S. AFRICOM’s commander, U.S. Military Gen. Stephen Townsend.
“This train is all about readiness. Readiness of our companions, and readiness of our forces. It brings collectively numerous concepts, experiences, and capabilities — finally making us stronger companions and a extra succesful multi-national drive,” added Townsend.
“COVID-19 has not changed our focus on engaging with our Africa partners. Attributable to final yr’s cancellation of African Lion, we had a head begin in planning this yr’s train,” mentioned Townsend. “We perceive how vital this coaching is to our forces and our companions and higher function in a degraded COVID setting. We are going to guarantee profitable coaching whereas taking crucial COVID-19 precautionary measures so as to take action.”
The train takes place in a number of areas in Morocco, together with Agadir, Tifnit, Tan Tan, Mahbes, Tafraout, Ben Guerir, and Kenitra, in addition to in Senegal, Tunisia, and Germany. U.S. and Royal Moroccan Forces (FAR), have been joined by the armed forces of Brazil, Canada, Nice Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Senegal, and Tunisia. As well as, army observers from 30 nations are current.