“The largest American military exercise ever carried out on this continent”
“The largest US military exercise ever on this continent. This is how US Major General Andrew Rohling described the 2021 edition of the African Lion military exercise, which will be held jointly with Morocco on its territory from June 7 to 18, during the launch ceremony in Agadir.
After entering the military base, You then have to walk alongside barracks tinted with yellow, an airstrip and cross a corridor adorned with the flags of the 10 partner countries, which frame the entrance to the green U-shaped tents.
Two generals, a Moroccan and an American, spoke about the stakes of this 17th edition, in front of the portrait of King Mohammed VI. “This exercise has undoubtedly reached a degree of maturity which attests to the strength of the cooperative relations between our respective armies”, declared General Belkhir El Farouk, commander of the South zone.
Taking place in areas controlled by the Polisario?
Referring to “the evolution of global geopolitics”, the officer of the Royal Armed Forces (RAF) insists on the need for “more multinational” military action to face “hybrid threats using multifaceted modes of action”. An air training exercise involving Moroccan and American “bombers, fighters and air supply planes” will take place, as well as naval maneuvers, including a joint “naval fire exercise” between the navies of the two countries, according to Africom (US Africa Command).
But beyond these tactical considerations, The purpose of this year’s exercise is open to various interpretations, especially since the United States officially recognized Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara a few months earlier. Therefore, the question persists as to whether these exercises will take place in areas controlled by the Polisario in Morocco.
For two weeks, more than 7,000 soldiers from participating countries will meet to carry out joint exercises in “Agadir, Tifnit, Tan-Tan, Mahbès, Tafraoute, Ben Guerir and Kenitra”, American colonel Ryan Dillon told us. Mahbès is the only place mentioned in this list which is located on the territory of the former Spanish colony.