The Commander of U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, visited Morocco to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th iteration of Exercise African Lion, 17th-19th June 2021 that has just wrapped up. He visited several exercise locations where he met with troops who took part in the exercise. “African Lion is our largest and most important exercise in Africa. The exercise helps us build readiness as well as build and strengthen partnerships to best operate in a complex, multi-domain environment. We did not allow a COVID environment to change our focus and long-term commitment to our partners,” said Townsend. “We remain focused on maintaining strong relationships with our allies and partners. We worked extremely hard to make this year’s training a reality and no doubt we all benefited from it tremendously.”
On the margins of the exercise, Townsend met with defense leaders from other nations, including Libyan Government of National Unity representatives and the Chief of Staff of the Libyan Army, Gen. Mohamad al-Haddad. During their meeting, Townsend and Haddad discussed the need for foreign forces to withdraw from Libya immediately. Townsend and Haddad also discussed ongoing efforts to unify Libyan military institutions and opportunities for greater military cooperation with the United States. During the visit, Townsend also met with other U.S. military leaders who were on the ground for African Lion 21, including Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau. A number of National Guard troops from Utah, Wyoming, and D.C. took part in the exercise.
Townsend also met with Senegal’s Chief of Army Staff, Brig. Gen. Fulgence Ndour. During their discussion, he thanked Ndour for Senegal’s role as a security leader in West Africa, and for hosting or participating in multiple U.S. Africa Command exercises, including Exercises Flintlock and Obangame Express. The Inspector-General of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, Abdelfattah Louarak ended the ceremony with a closing speech on being confident the exercise will succeed in promoting the values of peace and solidarity among nations, as well as becoming an essential milestone in the path toward peace and solidarity in the region, and in Africa.
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