U.S. Personnel and Equipment Arrive in Morocco for Exercise African Lion 06

AGADIR, Morocco – For the first time since WWII, a U.S. Tank drives onto Moroccan soil. The U.S. Marine M-1A1 Main Battle tank will be used during Exercise African Lion 06, a regularly scheduled combined U.S.-Moroccan military exercise designed to promote improved interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures. (DoD photo by Marine Sgt Adrianne Rigez)

AGADIR, Morocco - Approximately 550 U.S. military personnel arrived the Cap Draa Training Area near Tan Tan, Morocco to take part in exercise African Lion 06, May 22.

This regularly scheduled, combined U.S.-Moroccan military exercise is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's tactics, techniques and procedures as well as foster relationships.

It's been more than 60 years since American tanks have set tracks on North African soil. The last time was during Operation Torch when the United States helped push the Nazi regime out of Africa and back into Europe during the early battles of WWII. Since then, the North African country of Morocco has prospered to include claiming its independence from France.

In fact, offloading of the vehicles and equipment comes three days after the country celebrated its 50th Independence Day. The U.S. DoD ship Cape Decision, from Norfolk, Va., arrived in the tourist city of Agadir, Morocco, May 17 carrying four U.S. Marine M-1A1 Main Battle Tanks and a variety of other vehicles and equipment.

The tanks, from Company E, 4th Tank Battalion based in Fort Knox, Ky., as well as a convoy of other Marine vehicles to include Humvees and Light Armored Vehicles all played a key role during the exercise as U.S. and Moroccan militaries joint together and conduct various types of live-fire and combined-arms training.

"It takes a lot just to get this ship unloaded," said Army Lieutenant Col. Neil Glad, who works in the Office of Defense Operation at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. "It's more than just the maneuver and the rounds downrange; it's about the relationships that are made beginning here."

Relationships will also be fostered through humanitarian efforts taking place concurrent with the training. A group of U.S. Air Force Reserve Command personnel will provide limited medical and dental examinations and treatment to Moroccans in the vicinity of Guelmim. This assistance will improve lives, relieve human suffering as well as build on the relationship between U.S. and Moroccan people.

African Lion has become and annual exercise and is scheduled to conclude May 31.

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