In 2011, Morocco and the United States staged a six-week exercise that
exposed U.S. forces to desert combat. The exercise, called African Lion,
consisted of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers and 900 members of the Royal
Moroccan Armed Forces and took place in several locations including Cap Draa
in the Sahara Desert.
"The exercise serves as a way for U.S. and Moroccan military members to
hone skills and learn to work together to accomplish missions," a U.S.
military statement said.
During May, the Marines taught the Moroccans a range of skills,
including counter-insurgency techniques as well as comand post, live fire,
aerial fueling and low-level flight training. They said the U.S. force also
demonstrated its light armored vehicle arsenal for the Moroccan military.
The U.S. military has established a presence in southern Morocco.
Officials said U.S. officers were training Moroccan troops as well as
monitoring Al Qaida throughout North Africa.
Officials said the U.S. military was also introducing air and ground
equipment to Morocco. They cited light armored vehicles, main battle tanks
and air refueling platforms.
"The Marines have had the chance to train with the Moroccans in a way
which has exposed them to different approaches and tactics, as well as
increasing their knowledge of different weapons systems," U.S. Maj. Gordon
The Marines who participated in African Lion were expected be used to
instruct others in desert combat. They said the Marines would gain
experience in understanding desert conditions and how to properly use their
equipment in such an environment.
"Since I don't have much longer in the service, my goal is to pass my
knowledge down to my junior Marines to prepare them for what their future
holds," Thames said.