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USAFE-AFAFRICA wraps up exercise in Morocco

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

A C-130J Super Hercules prepares to conduct a dirt landing during Exercise African Lion 18, April 25, 2018, near Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. Approximately 900 U.S. reserve and active Soliders, Sailors, Marines and Airmen worked with RMAF in African Lion throughout the country of Morocco. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

Loadmasters from the 37th Airlift Squadron toss Meals Ready to Eat packages to U.S. service members out of a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise African Lion 18, April 25, 2018, above Tifnit Beach, Morocco. The U.S. Africa Command exercise led by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa included military training in Combined Joint Task Force command-post activities and counter violent-extremist organization training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

An 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial delivery supervisor and Royal Moroccan Army Brigade d'intervention Parachutiste loadmasters assemble a Meals Ready to Eat bundle during Exercise African Lion 18, April 23, 2018 at Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The MREs were dropped to U.S. Marines residing on Tifnit Beach for the annually-scheduled, combined exercise. Morocco is a strong partner in counterterrorism efforts, a major non-NATO ally, and a pivotal player in Middle Eastern and North African issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

Ramstein Air Base Airmen practice communicating rescue procedures with 37th Airlift Squadron aircrew above in a C-130J Super Hercules during a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training, 18, April 25, 2018, near Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The SERE training was held during Exercise African Lion 18 where Royal Moroccan Armed Forces service members observed and trained with the U.S. to support interoperability of forces while enhancing professional relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

Ramstein Air Base Airmen and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces service members watch a C-130J Super Hercules fly overhead during a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training at Exercise African Lion 18, April 25, 2018, near Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The Airmen practiced rescue procedures and techniques with 37th Airlift Squadron aircerw above in the C-130J. RMAF service members observed to develop their own tactics, techniques and procedures, and further cooperation amongst nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

U.S. Airmen, Soldiers and Moroccan paratroopers pose for a photo at Rabat Airfield prior to boarding a C-130J Super Hercule as part of Exercise African Lion 18, April 17, 2018. 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.

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Foley, 37th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and 2nd Lt. Mike Thomas, 37th AS pilot, fly a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16, 2018 near Rabat, Morocco. With the air space, drop zone and operations support of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, 37th AS aircrew executed low-level mountain flying, 81 joint personnel drops, 19 dirt landings, and 12 emergency aircraft egress landings. The combined multilateral exercise aims to enhance U.S. and RMAF professional relationships while supporting interoperability of forces to further counter violent extremist organizations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

U.S. Army jump master, Sgt. Katelyn Garret and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces paratroopers pull the static line and deployment bags back into a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16, 2018, above Tifnit Beach, Morocco. With the air space, drop zone and operations support of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, Kaiserslautern Military Community Airmen and Soldiers worked together to improve one another’s tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julio Pernas 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial delivery supervisor and Royal Moroccan Army Brigade d'intervention Parachutiste loadmasters Sgt. Abdeliah Majhad and Adjunct Said Dezai, assemble a Meals Ready to Eat bundle during Exercise African Lion 18, April 23, 2018 at Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The MREs were dropped to U.S. Marines residing on Tifnit Beach for the combined exercise. Approximately 900 U.S. reserve and active Soliders, Sailors, Marines and Airmen worked with RMAF to conduct African Lion throughout the country of Morocco. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.
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Royal Moroccan Armed Forces paratroopers prepare for a personnel drop from a C-130J Super Hercules near Kenitra Air Base as part of Exercise African Lion 18, April 16, 2018. Morocco is a strong partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts; By training together, the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces further develop tactics, techniques, and procedures to counter violent, extremist organizations.

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julio Pernas 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial delivery supervisor and Royal Moroccan Army Brigade d'intervention Parachutiste loadmasters Sgt. Abdeliah Majhad and Adjunct Said Dezai, assemble a Meals Ready to Eat bundle during Exercise African Lion 18, April 23, 2018 at Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The MREs were dropped to U.S. Marines residing on Tifnit Beach for the combined exercise. Approximately 900 U.S. reserve and active Soliders, Sailors, Marines and Airmen worked with RMAF to conduct African Lion throughout the country of Morocco. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.
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Royal Moroccan Air Force Adjudant Taoufiq Rara, Third AF loadmaster and Staff Sgt. Brandon Ravenell 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secure a harness onboard a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise African Lion 18, April 16, 2018 at Kenitra Air Base, Morocco. The Africa Command-sponsored, multilateral exercise is designed to improve mutual understanding of each nations’ tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

KENITRA AIR BASE, Morocco --

Exercise African Lion 2018 concludes as approximately 900 U.S. service members prepare to redeploy out of the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia.

The exercise involved various types of training across the Moroccan coastline, including an Aviation Training Exercise supported by Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, and Soldiers from the 5th Quartermaster and the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. 

“Ensuring familiarity with integration of operations and progressing mutual national interests is key to our worldwide capabilities and their effectiveness,” said Capt. Josh Kelsey, 37th Airlift Squadron  pilot and African Lion 2018 deputy mission commander. “We’re working through the mechanics of integrating all of our operations so that if the time comes, we stand united against the threat.”

Throughout the two-week performance, service members conducted low-level mountain flying, aeromedical evacuation training, combat off-load and on-loads, 81 joint-personnel drops, 21 low-cost/low-altitude parachute drops, 19 dirt landings, 18 free-fall parabundle drops, and 12 emergency aircraft egress landings.

The team took on U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa’s first drop of the newly updated Joint Precision Airdrop System using an attached Modular Autonomous Guidance Unit to GPS guide its cargo directly onto its target.

Aircrew dropped six bundles from a high altitude and all landed safely within meters of the desired target. This demonstrated the accuracy of the new system and a significant proof of concept for both the Army and the Air Force.

Additionally, this was also the first time the 37 AS routinely landed on a freshly surveyed, completely bare, unimproved dirt field.

“It just showed the capability of our Wing to start from scratch on a dirt field, survey, determine suitability, and land a C-130J there,” said Capt. Laura K. Martineau, 37 AS pilot and African Lion 2018 mission commander.

Additionally, the Atlas Mountains presented the 37 AS pilots with some great low-level performance challenges, Martineau explained. The higher the pressure altitude, the more difficult it is to climb and crossover ridge lines.

“Our training prepares us to ingress into a joint forcible entry-type situation and drop a considerable amount of personnel at once,” Martineau continued. “The Moroccans have also been observing procedures in-flight; it’s been incredible training for everyone involved.”

In light of today’s political and security environment, it is more important than ever to collaborate effectively and promote mutual understanding of international security. 

By working in sync for the past two weeks, the U.S. military and Moroccan Royal Armed Forces strengthen interoperability and further develop tactics, techniques, and procedures of participating nations to counter violent extremist organizations.

 “When we have competent partners ready to aid in maintaining all of our freedoms, posturing against today’s security threats becomes exponentially easier,” Kelsey said. “It’s about building partnership capacity with cooperative nations.”

The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes Morocco’s role as a strong and stable partner in North Africa and their contributions to the counter-ISIL mission.

In this year’s iteration of African Lion, countries included Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Spain, Tunisia, and U.K. in addition to the U.S. and Morocco.

Through our African Lion partnership, the DoD looks to support Morocco’s efforts to modernize their forces and defeat violent extremist organizations’ attempts to gain influence in Morocco.

“We’re making sure we are building relationships that last beyond our current stay here,” Kelsey said. “We’re laying down the groundwork for efforts to come.”