U.S. Africa Command Commander U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend visited Morocco to attend the closing ceremony of Exercise African Lion 21 and to meet with several African defense leaders June 17-19.
“The African Lion is our largest and most important exercise in Africa,” said Townsend. “The exercise helps us build preparedness, build and strengthen partnerships to function best in a complex, multi-domain environment.”
Townsend visited several exercise sites where he met with troops who were participating in the exercise.
“We didn’t allow it COVID to change our focus and long-term commitment to our partners, ”said Townsend. “We continue to focus on maintaining strong relationships with our allies and partners. We worked extremely hard to make this year’s training a reality and we have all undoubtedly benefited tremendously from it. “
Townsend met with senior Moroccan military leaders, including the Inspector General of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, Abdelfattah Louarak.
“The 17th edition of the African Lion 2021 exercise has just ended and has been a great success on all levels as all of its goals have been achieved,” said Louarak. “I am confident that this exercise will succeed in promoting the values of peace and solidarity between nations and that it is an essential milestone on the way to peace and solidarity in the region and in Africa.”
Townsend thanked his Moroccan colleagues, in particular the Southern Zone Commander, Lieutenant General Belkhir El Farouk, for the outstanding efforts of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in the planning and execution of African Lion 2021 and for the opportunities to deepen the security partnership between the US and Morocco.
Townsend also met with Senegal’s Army Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. General Fulgence Ndour. During their discussion, he thanked Ndour for Senegal’s role as security leader in West Africa and for hosting or participating in several US Africa Command exercises, including the Flintlock and Obangame Express exercises.
On the sidelines of the exercise, Townsend met with defense leaders from other nations, including representatives of the Libyan Government of National Unity and the Chief of Staff of the Libyan Army, General Mohamad al-Haddad. During their meeting, Townsend and Haddad discussed the need for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Libya. Townsend and Haddad also discussed ongoing efforts to unite 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 General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the U.S. National Guard’s office. A number of National Guardsmen from Utah, Wyoming, and DC participated in the exercise.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United States Africa Command.
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