IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time

The military maneuvers took place in the Moroccan cities of Agadir, Kenitra, Tan Tan, Taoudant and Mahbes.

 IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time (photo credit: ISRAEL MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time
(photo credit: ISRAEL MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)

For the first time, IDF officers and officials from Israel’s Defense Ministry took part in the large-scale African Lion, the largest annual military exercise held on the African continent, alongside Morocco and several African nations.

The Head of the Middle East and North Africa Division of the Policy & Political-Military Bureau in the Israel Ministry of Defense, who also serves as the Defense Attaché to Morocco, in addition to two IDF officers participated in the drill this past week.

According to a statement released by the Defense Ministry, Israel’s participation in the exercise “is an additional step in strengthening the security relations between the two countries’ Defense Ministries and militaries. In addition, it constitutes a continuation of the FAR’s Counterterrorism Unit’s participation in the multinational exercise, which was held in Israel last year.”

The drill, which lasted throughout June, included 7,500 personnel from 10 nations, among them Brazil, France and Britain. Observers from NATO were also present – and for the first time, officials from Israel, Ghana and Senegal.

The military maneuvers took place in the Moroccan cities of Agadir, Kenitra, Tan Tan, Taoudant and Mahbes. US Africa Command said that some also took place in Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.

 IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time (credit: CHRISTOPHER HAL) IDF participates in African Lion drill in Morocco for the first time (credit: CHRISTOPHER HAL)

“African Lion 22 features a joint task force command post-exercise; a combined arms live-fire exercise; a maritime exercise; an air exercise including bomber aircraft; a joint forcible entry with paratroopers into a field-training exercise; a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear response exercise; and a humanitarian civic assistance program event,” read a statement released by US Africa Command.

“This effort involves strengthening our shared defense capabilities to counter transnational threats and violent extremist organizations, which is in the common good of the US and African partner nations,” the statement said.

Israel-Morocco relationship

Israel and Morocco, who have had close economic, diplomatic and military ties for years, signed a normalization agreement as part of  the Abraham Accords.

In November, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding that sets a solid security cooperation framework formalizing defense relations between them. The MoU allows for increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, industrial collaboration, military training and more.

The security and defense ties between the countries are part of a wide and well-developed range of connections in the fields of economy, culture, education, athletics, and more,” the Defense Ministry said Saturday evening.

In March, senior IDF officers took part in the Israeli military’s first official visit to the North African kingdom, meeting with senior officers and agreeing to military cooperation between the two countries.

The visit was held in the capital Rabat with several IDF division heads: Maj.-Gen. Tal Kalman of the Strategy and Third-Circle Division, Brig.-Gen. Efi Dafrin of the Foreign Relations Division and Brig.-Gen. “G.” of the Operations Division in the Intelligence Division.

They met with Moroccan military chief Lt.-Gen. Belkhir el-Farouk and senior Moroccan military officers, including the heads of the country’s intelligence and operations directorates in Rabat.

During the visit, the IDF officers discussed the possibility of cooperative efforts with their Moroccan counterparts, including potential collaboration in intelligence and operational training as well as multinational exercises.

Last year, a Royal Moroccan Air Force C-130 landed at the Hatzor Airbase in southern Israel, marking the first time that an air force platform belonging to the North African country landed in the Jewish state.

The plane flew to Israel ahead of an international drill set to take part in the South of the country with the United States this week.

According to reports, military ties between Israel and Morocco primarily involve intelligence cooperation and trade in arms.