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Tuesday, June 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Moroccan Navy takes part in NATO exercise

ATHENS — Morocco has participated in a naval exercise sponsored by NATO.


The Royal Moroccan Navy contributed personnel to Phoenix Express-2011, held at a NATO base in the Greek island of Crete. Moroccan sailors joined their counterparts from Croatia, Greece and the United States in maritime interdiction simulations held at the NATO center in Souda Bay, Crete in an effort to enhance interoperability with the Western alliance.

"What we take away from this class will help us to know each other better and be more coherent in our duties," Royal Morocco Navy Lt. Amine Khalid said.

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Khalid was a member of the Moroccan team that conducted interdiction and search missions as part of Phoenix Express. He said the classroom instruction, which stressed the psychological factors in the boarding of a suspected insurgency or smuggling vessel, would be vital in actual operations.

"This class will help us to pay better attention to detail during our training at PE-11, and during actual missions in the future," Khalid said.

Phoenix Express was designed to enhance maritime interoperability among the 13 participating countries, including Morocco. The exercise was divided into phases that focused on port and training.

The three-week exercise, which began in late May, included members of the U.S. Navy's visit, board, search and seizure team of the USS Bradley. Trainers taught Moroccans and other participants methods to reduce stress and focus on teamwork during an interception operation.

"A boarding member who is overstressed or fearful of the mission will spread that anxiety to the crew of the suspected vessel, and that can be very problematic," Greek Maj. Konstantine Liolios, one of the trainers, said.

Morocco has been a member of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, which over the last two years worked to enhance maritime security in the region. Officials said Morocco and other North African states have been urged to join NATO's Operation Active Endeavor, which targets insurgency and weapons smuggling ships in the Mediterranean.

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