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02 May 2024

U.S. Africa Command's Largest Annual Exercise Kicks Off in Tunisia

U.S. Africa Command's Largest Annual Exercise Kicks Off in Tunisia
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department Of Defence Press Release

U.S. Africa Command's premiere and largest annual joint and combined exercise, African Lion 2024, got underway Monday in Tunisia, the Pentagon announced during a briefing today.

U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, will be hosting the exercise across Tunisia, Senegal, Ghana and Morocco; with more than 8,000 personnel from over 27 nations participating through May 31, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters. 

"African Lion provides an opportunity to conduct realistic, dynamic and collaborative readiness training in austere environments," said Singh, adding that the exercise increases interoperability, while strengthening shared defense capabilities and cooperation used to counter violent extremist organizations and transnational threats. 

"The exercise is a testament to the dedication participants have to enhancing security and collaboration across the continent."  

Now in its 20th year, African Lion highlights the U.S. military's commitment to maintaining strong relationships with allies and partners throughout the region, thus embodying the military's partner-led and U.S.-enabled approach to Africa, according to a recent Army release on the exercise. 

"We are very grateful for our Tunisian hosts. They continue to demonstrate their professionalism and hospitality," U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John A. LeBlanc, SETAF-AF deputy commanding general, is quoted in the release. "This multinational engagement is designed to prevent conflicts, deter adversary aggression and ensure readiness to respond effectively to any crisis."

During the Tunisia portion of the exercise, African Lion will be focused on developing readiness and interoperability among participating countries through diverse training activities. This includes live-fire exercises; explosive ordnance disposal operations; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training, according to the release. 

Among the more than 8,000 personnel participating in African Lion, the U.S. military will be represented by service members from three of the nation's six armed forces. 

"It's important to highlight the fact that those numbers include members of the Army, Air Force and Marines," LeBlanc is quoted in the release. "I happen to be a New Hampshire National Guardsman myself, and I'm very pleased elements of the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard have flown all the way to Tunisia for African Lion as well." 

Elsewhere in U.S. Africa Command's area of responsibility, Singh announced that U.S. Naval Forces Africa and U.S. Marine Corps Africa are joining with Ghana's navy to lead the African Maritime Forces Summit and Navy Infantry Leadership Symposium Africa in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.

During the summit — which is runs through Thursday and has a theme of "Cooperation at sea: Safeguarding African Maritime Security" — military chiefs and government leaders from more than 40 international ally and partner countries are participating in panel discussions focused on maritime security and collaboration, said Singh.

"These discussions and connections will improve interoperability across domains and continents, strengthening strategic-level relationships to help facilitate better regional cooperation when dealing with maritime threats," she said. 

The first event of this kind took place virtually in July of 2021 with more than 16 countries in attendance.

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