TIFNIT, Morocco -- The U.S. and coalition forces learned valuable lessons during recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically regarding the importance of stability operations and their relevance during future contingencies.
Soldiers from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and U.S. military personnel participating in Exercise African Lion 14 conducted stability operations training to put those lessons into practice during Exercise African Lion 14, March 27, 2014.
Exercise African Lion 14 is a combined-joint exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco, and the U.S. that involves approximately 150 soldiers of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, 350 U.S. servicemembers and additional military personnel from European and African partner nations.
The annually-scheduled exercise is designed to improve each nation's ability to operate collectively and develop a mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. The primary focus of this year’s exercise is the combined-joint staffing process through a command-post exercise designed to prepare participating partner forces for the larger scale multi-lateral training event scheduled for Exercise African Lion 15.
A platoon from the Royal Moroccan Army with U.S. servicemembers from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 25th Marine Regiment, 92nd Military Police Company and a U.S. Air Force security detachment had the opportunity to focus on patrolling, non-lethal engagements and convoy security, during the stability operations portion of the exercise.
“Working with the Moroccans is important because not only does it strengthen our relationships, but it creates an opportunity for both militaries to learn from each other,” said Marine 1st Lt. Aaron Anderson, a military police officer with 2nd MEB. “Even with the language barrier, the Moroccans and Marines have been able to work together and effectively communicate with one another.”
Moroccan and Marine leaders divided the training into three evolutions giving the Moroccans, Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers the opportunity to work in small groups. This ensured proper application of training procedures and effective dissemination of information.
The first evolution consisted of fire-team formations and hand-and-arm signals, which were followed by immediate-action drills and patrolling. Classes soon turned to quick-reaction practical application scenarios based on the lessons taught.
“The Moroccans simply amazed the Marines,” said Marine 1st Lt. Shane G. Livingstone, a military police platoon commander. “This morning we did a ‘check on learning.’ There’s nothing like being able to watch them pick-up and execute everything they learned the day before with speed and accuracy, even after having received a lot of classes the same day.”
Immediately following application of patrolling skills around the perimeter of the training area, the next class focused on entry and vehicle-control points, which included vehicle and personnel searches, and escalation-of-force procedures.
“This training is essential because it gives the Moroccans another skill to employ when needed,” said Marine Cpl. Alberto Camacho, a non-lethal weapons instructor. “Instead of having few options before use of lethal force, they now have more tools to draw from when attempting to de-escalate situations.”
Instructors noted the techniques practiced during the training evolution would prove useful in other noncombat operations. The participants can also use the training for noncombatant evacuations, humanitarian aid and other situations that require nonlethal force.
The Moroccan soldiers and Marines finished the day’s training with convoy security taught by U.S. Army military police from Sembach, Germany, and U.S. Air Force military police out of Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. Their training focused on humanitarian relief and disaster stability operations, which covered sectors of fire, danger areas and escorting humanitarian supplies.
“This training was important because they now can apply it and train other countries, but it was also good for us because we’ve learned just as much from the Moroccans,” said Sgt. Keenan M. Kite, with the U.S. Army military police. “We’ve learned more about their culture, tactics and procedures and incorporated that into how we operate as well.”
The stability operations training served as one portion of Exercise African Lion 14. The exercise also includes live-fire training, more in depth nonlethal weapons training, and a multinational observer program before it concludes, April 5.